Issue 13: Darts & Laurels

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Darts

Mayor Mark Gerretsen’s behaviour on Twitter

While we have criticized Mayor Gerretsen’s immature behaviour on Twitter before, he reached new lows in the past week. Gerretsen could have used what was a relatively smooth Homecoming weekend to improve town-gown relations. Instead, the Mayor put his foot in his mouth by being overly critical of the crowd on Aberdeen St., disrespecting Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf and being generally paternalistic and immature.

Gerretsen is a public figure paid to represent the residents of Kingston. As such, we expect him to conduct himself professionally. Homecoming weekend is a critical time for him to fulfill his role, as the mayor’s leadership is required to mediate between stakeholders. Instead of providing leadership, Gerretsen acted like a petty outsider.

Queen’s students, the AMS and the Kingston Police Force got along fairly well throughout the weekend, while Gerretsen stood back and took potshots on Twitter. He seemed dedicated to aggravating divisions between students and the city on a weekend when there was no good reason to do so.

The Aberdeen St. gathering was subdued compared to previous years, despite Gerretsen’s attempts to exaggerate its size. On Saturday night, Gerretsen tweeted at Woolf saying: “I am standing at William and Aberdeen. I have two words for you: NOT GOOD”. Making a show by tweeting at the Principal is bad form - surely Woolf deserves more respect after having made efforts to ensure a positive Homecoming.

It seems that only in Kingston would a mayor make this much of a fuss about a relatively small street party. Gerretsen’s tweets make more sense in light of next year’s municipal elections. Presumably, the Mayor has calculated that Homecoming’s critics vote en masse, while student voter turnout is low.

Gerretsen should be embarrassed by how he’s been perpetuating historically tense town-gown relations. How can he demand good behaviour from students if he doesn’t consider us worthy of respect?

Vladimir Putin nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Vladimir Putin’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize by an advocacy group is a symbol of the award’s continuing irrelevance. While Putin played a significant role in putting a peaceful solution on the table, in regards to Syria’s chemical weapons, this isn’t enough to warrant his nomination for the Peace Prize. Putin’s Russia is extremely oppressive and has an aggressive foreign policy of its own. It’s questionable whether we should lend the Peace Prize significance; it seems to be a flawed award with a flawed nominating process.

Northwestern journalism program facilitates unpaid internships

Students at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism have been exploited in an unpaid internship program. The university offered its students to major news organizations knowing that they wouldn’t be paid. The university collected tuition from the students as well as fees from the news organizations that they were provided to. This is a depressing state of affairs for anyone who aspires to be a journalist. A profession that demands integrity is now being perverted by the institutions that are charged with maintaining it. It’s come to the point where only those from high-income families have a hope of beginning a career in journalism. Reform is desperately needed in an industry where exploitative situations have become all too common.

Laurels

Homecoming a moderate success

Queen’s Homecoming was mostly successful despite our Mayor’s best attempts to portray it negatively. Student behaviour was fairly tame, with few major incidents of misconduct. Police and students were largely cordial with each other, and the Aberdeen St. gathering wrapped up before 2 a.m. Some police tactics were overly rough, however. There’s no need to violently throw anyone into a paddy wagon - behaviour observed by some of our reporters who were on-scene. Aggressive searches are also unnecessary. It’s a shame that the few students who threw beer bottles legitimized these heavy-handed police tactics in the eyes of Homecoming’s critics. That said, any student or police indiscretion was completely overshadowed by the united effort to clean up Aberdeen St. on Sunday morning. Students, alumni and other Kingston residents teamed up with the AMS’s Student Maintenance and Resource Team (SMART), leaving Aberdeen St. spotless.

Prank Fire alarm pulls decreasing due to awareness program

As of last Thursday, there had been no malicious fire alarm pulls so far this year in Queen’s residences. For students that were in residence three, four or five years ago, this might be an astonishing fact. It’s well-known that Kingston Fire and Rescue services reroute resources to university residences when a fire alarm is pulled, thus increasing the response time for other calls. In 2010, one such occurrence resulted in a fatality. In the aftermath of that incident, Residence Life instituted a program to inform students about the consequences of pulling fire alarms. The program includes new residents watching a video about the fatal incident in 2010. It’s nice to see that frosh are taking note and changing their behaviour.

Student and alumni tree planting

The new tree planting initiative headed by the AMS Commission of Environment and Sustainability is a positive development. The effort, which involved both University and local resident associations, was a great way to put a positive spin on what had the potential to be a very rocky weekend. It’s also nice to see something that’s environmentally-focused during a time when environmental initiatives are on the backburner. Hopefully these types of partnerships will continue to bloom.

- Journal Editorial Board

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