Letters to the Editors

Media draw a surprising inference

Re: “Globe spins too far,” (September 21, 2010)

Dear Editors,

The recent articles published by local and national newspapers after the death of a first-year engineering student at Queen’s University have cited past truths about campus festivities, not current facts.

The death of any young individual is a tragic event, made especially difficult when the circumstances of the event are not fully understood.

Facing this scarcity of facts, reporters have unfairly used the University’s reputation as a party school to fill in the blanks. 

Frosh Week concluded on Sunday afternoon, so connecting the death to the festivities is a surprising inference.

Moreover, the University’s reputation as a party school is undeserved or at best outdated.

Consequently, reporters have situated this sad event in a false context, or at least depicted the context inaccurately.

Engineering Frosh Week is being described as week-long, school-sanctioned drunkenness, but that has been untrue for more than a decade.

Ten years ago, Engineering students were allowed to drink at a single event, on the first day of Frosh Week.

Five years ago, following a decision by the university administration, all of Engineering Frosh Week became alcohol-free.

Granted, students still climb the Grease Pole and are pelted with an oatmeal and flour mixture as they race Thundermugs, but saying they “guzzle boat-loads of alcohol” is simply inaccurate.

Times at Queen’s have changed; reporters should not situate current events in past traditions.

As recent graduates of Queen’s University, we have participated in numerous Frosh Week, Homecoming, and end-of-year festivities.

Given that Engineering Frosh Week is not the reckless endangerment that it is portrayed to be, let us take this sad event for what it is — the tragic passing of a bright young man — and not as the consequence of behaviour that current students know was only tolerated in days gone by.

Matthew Lato, Sci ’06, Ph.D ’10
Isabel Coderre, ArtSci ’10

Careful planning by caring professors

Re: “Academic plan raises new debate” (September 17, 2010)

Dear Editors,

Professor Lord is quoted as saying: “[E]ven arts students aren’t receiving writing instruction until third year.” In the course I teach, SOCY 122 (Introduction to Sociology), 50 per cent of the final grade is based on a carefully designed set of skill acquisition, skill building and written performance exercises related to research and essay writing.

Each exercise is carefully evaluated by a graduate student teaching assistant who supplies a considerable amount of thoughtful, constructive commentary, leading to a final essay that receives equally as thorough an assessment and feedback.

In the correspondence section of SOCY 122, Bill Munn, who has been the tutor/marker for almost 20 years, provides students with extensive, constructive feedback related to content and writing skills in each of the four essays that every student must craft over the course of the year.

I would be disappointed if the English and history departments do not provide similar opportunities, but certainly the more than 700 students who take my courses do not have to wait until third year for “writing instruction.”

Rob Beamish,
Sociology Department

Journal insensitivity

Re: “First aid for last call,” (September 17, 2010)

Dear Editors,

Whose idea was it to run the wildly tasteless cartoon of a drunken student carrying what appeared to be a dead one, in light of recent events on campus?

Nevermind that the editorial cartoonist is a terrible artist, there isn’t an ounce of wit in this hideously-timed commentary.

How did this cartoon even make it through the editorial process without someone raising their hand and saying, “Hey, maybe this isn’t the best thing to run right now.” 

Couple this with the Journal’s wild speculation in the initial story on the tragic death of Cameron Burke [sic] that murder and foul play should be considered before police had even started their full investigation, and I can’t help but wonder how you even consider yourselves responsible journalists.

Next time you run an editorial hatchet piece complaining about the corporate media for its lax journalistic ethics, I suggest you hold yourselves to the same standard.

Patrick MacDonald
ArtSci ’06

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