Queen’s releases severe allergy report

Severe Allergy Review Committee makes recommendations on policies and procedures to further student safety 

An “Ask Before You Eat“ information pamphlet in Mac-Corry

The Severe Allergy Review Committee, tasked last year with reviewing Queen’s policies and procedures for accommodating students with severe allergies, has released its report with recommendations relating to education, communication, best practices, and emergency response.

The committee originally convened last fall after the tragic death of first-year student Andrea Mariano, who passed way during the first weeks of class due to an allergic reaction on campus.

“Queen’s takes student health and wellness seriously, and we always want to do what we can to support student health and safety,” Provost Alan Harrison told The Journal via email.

According to Harrison, the committee concluded that appropriate policies for severe allergies were already in place on campus, but more awareness is needed to improve access to the available services.

A major step that was implemented due to the review was the “Ask Us Before You Eat” sign campaign, posted in campus food service outlets.

“These signs aim to encourage students to talk to food services employees and ask questions about their allergy in order to make safe choices,” Harrison wrote.

Queen’s Food Services will be expanding their support for students with restrictive 
allergies, starting with this year’s Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR).

Incoming students will have an opportunity to connect and discuss their allergy with Food Services staff, prior to arriving for the fall semester.

“While these meetings and processes have been in place for several years, we are adding this pre-arrival opportunity to increase access to this service,” Harrison wrote.

When putting together the revised policies and practices, the committee considered the processes and services already in place at Queen’s and compared them to the perceived best practices across the university sector.

Numerous groups and individuals were also consulted, including “students, parents, physicians, university stakeholders, experts in the field, and other interested parties,” according to Harrison.

“The committee made 17 recommendations that aim to strengthen the policies and services we have in place to support students with severe allergies.”

Additional steps to be taken include the creation of a central webpage with all information and resources for students, faculty and staff.

Plans have been laid for Campus Security and Emergency Services to carry epinephrine injectors, beginning in the fall. Allergy education will also be included in training for both orientation leaders and residence dons.

Although it is unknown how many students at Queen’s are affected by a food allergy, it is estimated that they affect 7.5% of the Canadian population.

“The health, wellness and safety of our students is extremely important to the university, and that is why we undertook the review,” Harrison concluded.


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