Letters to the editors

Photo represents ‘commodification of Indigenous culture’

Dear Editors,

Re: Front page photo (Journal, Sept. 23, 2008)

When we saw The Journal yesterday, we were pleasantly surprised to see that a photograph from the 2nd Annual Educational Pow Wow made the front page. We soon became outraged when we could not find an article about the event to accompany the photo.

It is difficult for QCRED to understand how the Journal felt entitled to use photographs of Indigenous peoples without writing an article about the Indigenous gathering which took place. The use of these images without an explanation or story is extremely problematic. They lead readers to view Aboriginal peoples as mere entertainment rather than a diverse group of peoples with strong and proud cultures. These photographs of Aboriginal peoples dressed in their regalia while dancing, without any written explanation, play into racist ideologies of peoples dressing in “costume” and “performing.”

We realize that devoting a front page photograph to the story denotes that you consider the event to have been of importance. However, by choosing to display photographs rather than a story, you build onto a history of commodification of Indigenous culture and devalue the educational aspect of the event.

This incident evokes similar pangs of anger we felt towards the Journal after it published photographs but no stories surrounding the Rally Against Racism and the Trans Day of Remembrance. It demonstrates once again how marginalized groups are denied a voice in your publication and that we are made a spectacle of by having us on display.

We hope that you consider this letter in the future when covering events which aim to educate the larger Queen’s populous as well as to provide students from marginalized backgrounds with a safe space.

Aruna Zehra Boodram
ArtSci ’09
On behalf of Queen’s Coalition Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination

Bell deserves better

Dear Editors,

Re: “Lapse in AMS Security” (Journal, Sept. 19, 2008)

It is understandable that in the event of confidential documents being left out in the open, many people are bound to be upset or even feel slightly wronged. I’m sure my T4 from my past year at Walkhome was likely there and can therefore empathize with those who are upset. But it is unfair to attack the AMS Controller Scott Bell and make it seem like his 12 years of dedication to students of this university can be overlooked by this one event. Yes, it was an oversight on his part, but it should not be something that puts his credibility or even job at risk.

For 12 years, Scott has seen thousands of students, many managers and various AMS staff and executives. Throughout those 12 years he has been an absolutely critical part in ensuring that all things financial get processed in the AMS and that our student-run services are able to function. From my own personal experience, Walkhome is lucky to have someone like Scott in their corner; with 140 staff each year, it would be impossible for one manager to write 140 pay checks every two weeks and collect T4s and direct deposit sheets. He is an essential part of the AMS and helps ensure that this massive and often complex organization runs smoothly.

If you have ever been to QP, taken Walkhome or bought a coffee at CoGro, you can thank Scott Bell for ensuring that staff and managers are able to perform these jobs to the best of their ability without worrying about the mounds of financial paperwork. While it is unfortunate that there was this security breach, lessons will be learnt from this experience and Scott Bell should be allowed to continue what he does best: ensuring your student dollars get to the services and clubs that help make this university a vibrant community. Disciplinary action does not solve the problem, and in the end you cannot tarnish one man’s career because of this one slip-up.

Colin McLeod
ArtSci ’09
Walkhome Head Manager

Radcliffe in the wrong

Dear Editors,

Re: “Lapse in AMS security” (Journal, Sept. 19, 2008)

In your article, AMS President Talia Radcliffe is quoted as saying, “He or she could have chosen to notify us, as we assume a well-intentioned student would, but instead, a malicious decision was made ... that ... makes us want to look into non-academic discipline.”

Are you serious? The documents were “stolen” by the student who reported this to the school paper? I’m pretty sure that when a box of sensitive documents has been sitting in a hallway for upwards of a week, there’s some point at which you cease to entrust its safety to the honour system.

Madame President should be thanking this individual for taking the initiative to help his or her fellow Queen’s students, rather than further embarrassing her organization. If you’re going to be blatantly irresponsible, at least do so with a little class.

Incidentally, I’m impressed that the Journal managed to report that story without mentioning any punitive action taken against the employee who put hundreds of students’ private documents at risk. Bravo. Well, at least I know who to talk to when my credit rating starts to plummet.

Max Marcus
ArtSci ’10

Citing other codes misses the point

Dear Editors,

Re: “Codes of conduct do exist for professors, staff” (Journal, Sept.16, 2008)

In her comments on Mark Rosner’s Sept. 8 opinion piece on non-academic codes of conduct, Rebecca Coupland appears to have missed the point. While it is true that there are various applicable codes of conduct for staff and faculty at Queen’s, Ms. Coupland did not address two important issues Mr. Rosner highlighted. The first is that the explicit off-campus reach of the student Code of Conduct is not matched by similar language for staff and faculty. The second is the asymmetrical degrees of protection afforded by the University to faculty and students. The collective agreement with QUFA has an entire section devoted to protecting faculty from harassment by students. Equally strong policies protecting students from harassment by faculty do not exist at Queen’s. The latter is a particular concern for the SGPS given the cases of harassment, intimidation and outright abuse dealt with on a regular basis by SGPS Student Advisors and the Human Rights Office. I look forward to working with the University to fill these gaps in the coming months.

Jeff Welsh
PhD ‘10
SGPS President

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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