Toss the costs

The first Homecoming weekend has brought on yet another debate about policing costs and student behaviour. While the weekend’s celebrations triggered many students to gather on Aberdeen St., and Queen’s has contributed to policing costs in the past, renewing such an agreement would be unjust.

It doesn’t make sense to punish Queen’s students as a whole for the actions of a small handful. Additionally, Queen’s students already contribute a fair amount of economic benefits to the City of Kingston.

Although the Aberdeen street party was much smaller this year than in previous years, it got big enough to warrant extra policing. However, it’s important to note the composition of the crowd that called for this extra attention from police: Approximately two-thirds of those ticketed or arrested were not Queen’s students.

There’s no good argument that differentiates Queen’s students that did participate from other Kingston residents. They were off campus, and they weren't at a University-sanctioned event. Queen’s as an institution did its due diligence to prevent a recurrence of Homecoming’s worst problems.

The fact that a tiny percentage of Queen’s students participated in the Aberdeen street party shouldn't come with consequences for the entire student body: financing a fee for policing expenses. Queen’s students who misbehave already pay the exorbitant fines doled out during events like Homecoming. All other students pay property taxes through their rent, and make large contributions to the local economy in a plethora of other direct and indirect ways.

Mayor Mark Gerretsen is the main voice calling on Queen’s to compensate the City. This is unfortunate for the proponents of such a plan, as Gerretsen has lost credibility in the aftermath of the exaggerated
and divisive rhetoric he voiced over Homecoming weekend.

Gerretsen’s ongoing campaign to have students eliminated from census data for future municipal elections, thus reduce student representation on council, makes his attempt to shake Queen’s down for policing costs an even greater farce. Gerretsen is trying to get students to pay more for policing while simultaneously working to eliminate their say in local politics.

It’s too bad that some students see Homecoming solely as an opportunity for a street party. This tendency develops into a mob mentality, which effectively eliminates closing Aberdeen St. as an effectual resolution to Homecoming’s problems. That said, forcing Queen’s to pay for policing costs is a non-starter. What we need now is leadership and a renewed attempt to find alternative solutions.

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