Warning signs

Campus leaders outline potential street party dangers

Student leaders, led by AMS President Michael Ceci, sent an e-mail to Queen's students this morning regarding the potential ongoings at Aberdeen Street.

The e-mail reads as follows:

To the students of Queen’s University:

As what would have been Homecoming weekend (Sept 25-27) draws near, the AMS and your faculty and residence societies would like to address the safety concerns that led to the cancellation of this Queen’s tradition for at least the next two years. We are not here to defend or oppose the University’s decision. As your student government leaders, we want to share the information we have with you.

To begin, we would like to express our belief that students are adults who are capable of taking care of themselves and making their own decisions. However, we want to ensure that you have all of the facts presented to you so that you can make your decisions for this weekend accordingly.

We are sure you are aware that the most important issue raised about the Aberdeen street party has been the risk to student safety; this party was incredibly unsafe. Students at the street party regularly assume that the people surrounding them were other Queen’s students and alumni. Although students and alumni attended the unofficial event, so did thousands of people with no links to Queen’s. In fact, 75% of those arrested in past years have not been Queen’s students, and an informal study last year showed that approximately two thirds of the attendees had no affiliation whatsoever with Queen’s. Kingston residents, high school-age and older, and students from other universities also attended, whether or not they had friends at Queen’s, with no institutional reputation at stake and no consequences for their actions. In such a tightly packed and dangerous atmosphere, it is important to realize that many people had no connection to you and your school, and probably had different reasons for attending the event than you or your fellow students. Of most concern were those participants of varying ages with criminal records who flocked to Aberdeen with questionable intentions.

From public information released by the Queen’s administration, the City of Kingston, and Kingston Police, we know that if there is a party this year, it will be responded to much differently than in the past.

For the past several years, the AMS has requested a street closure from Kingston City Council in the interest of student safety. This meant the street would be legally closed, and those on it would not be arrested or fined for being present. There will be no street closure this year.

Last year alone, the city and the university spent about $300,000 trying to keep the unsanctioned party as safe as possible. Between 300 and 350 police officers were brought in from other Ontario units to watch the crowd. This year, police say they will act to “protect community safety.” We do not know exactly what this will fully entail, but we have been advised that the street will not be a safe place for our volunteers. Our expectation is that the police will be responding more directly to unlawful activity than they have in the past. We know that in addition to a full Kingston Police presence, crowd control and riot units will be used on loan from other police forces across the province.

In past years, “Red Hat” volunteers –students, alumni, and staff -- handed out free water and exchanged plastic cups for bottles. When everyone left for the night, these volunteers cleaned up the street. Because the street has been deemed too dangerous for them this year, they will not be present as we cannot in good conscience ask them to be present.

In past years, St. John Ambulance graciously kept a first aid tent open so that students with minor injuries could be tended to immediately. In addition, Frontenac Paramedics added five extra ambulances to their team so that if anyone was injured, he or she could be rushed to the hospital. This year, many of these precautions will not be in place.

As your student government leaders, our primary concern is your safety. You now know what we know about this weekend. If an unsanctioned street party develops, please be mindful of the many safety risks inherent with this kind of event, and remember that the safety net you may have relied on in the past will not be available due to the increased dangers to our volunteers. With this in mind, we ask you to please be careful and aware of your surroundings if you choose to drink and go out this weekend and this year.

All the best for the fall and we wish you a successful year.

Cha Gheill,

Michael Ceci, Alma Mater Society President & CEO
Leora Jackson, Rector
Mike Brinkworth, Concurrent Education Students’ Association President
Robyn Courtney, Main Campus Residents’ Council President
Greg Ellis, Engineering Society President
Jillian Evans, Arts and Science Undergraduate Society President
Spenser Heard, Commerce Society President
Karmen Krol, Aesculapian Society President
Jameel Lalji, MBA Society President
Christiane MacPherson, Nursing Science Society President
Katie Muzyka, Jean Royce Hall Council President
Nick Paterson, Physical and Health Education and Kinesiology Student Association President
Eric Rapos, Computing Students Association President

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