AMS Board reverses Homecoming decision, TAPS manager leaves position

Student involved in alleged hazing speaks out against University backlash

The Underground (pictured) and QP will both be open on Homecoming and during Frost Week after a reversed decision by the AMS Board of Directors.

On Sept. 19, the Alma Mater Society Board of Directors reversed a decision they made days before to close the AMS Pub Services (TAPS) during Homecoming and Frost Week due to a social event where a list was provided to staff to complete that included binge-drinking and dangerous activities.

In the aftermath of the first Board decision, Vice President (Operations) Dave Walker said, he had realized how protective students and alumni were of the pub services.

“Queen’s has a lot of loyalty to what they have and what you’re involved in, and how much passion and heart they put in to that,” he said. “But, what we’ve seen is people overlook their personal safety for this level of loyalty, and this conversation really is about hazing.”

Walker’s use of the term ‘hazing’ was not done lightly. In the immediate aftermath of the story being brought to light, his choice of language had sparked a great deal of contention online.

However, he didn’t back down from his first assessment of the incident. “I stand strong behind my stance of hazing, because that’s what it was,” he said.

Looking ahead to the future, especially with the announcement of the reversed decision about Homecoming, Walker explained that the blowback, from alumni especially, caused the AMS to look critically at their decision-making.

“We understood that we made a mistake, and we realized that punishing the general student body or alumni as a whole wasn’t necessary. It doesn’t get back to that conversation about hazing, and as such, the Board of Directors reinstated QP and The Underground.”

More actions would be taken to address the Aug. 30 events, Walker said, and the AMS Executive is far from done addressing the internal culture of the pub service.

In the days prior to the decision’s reversal, the Head Manager of TAPS was removed from her position. It’s unclear whether she was terminated or forced to step down from administrative pressure to react to the incident.

To TAPS staff member Matthew Sandell, ArtSci ’19, her removal was the reason to tell his side of the story to The Journal about the night of the alleged hazing.

The instance drew attention especially due to the result. Several students were hospitalized, and Sandell smashed a commercial window.

“Now, someone else is bearing the brunt of my mistakes,” he told The Journal. “I screwed up, and I own that. No one else.”

However, he had serious concerns about Queen’s response.

“Once the story broke, the University got really antsy about what occurred,” he explained. The AMS called the special committee meeting, he said, in an attempt to appease the University and TAPS’ liquor license holder.

“Someone’s head had to roll,” Sandell said. Subsequently, he said, the Head Manager complied and stepped down. “It was a noble thing to do, and I have a great deal of respect for what she did, but it wasn’t right.”

He was insistent that the responsibility should fall back on him alone.

“I take issue with the fact that anyone would think that I need to be coddled, or taken care of, or protected from myself in such a way that someone else has to pay the price,” Sandell said.

He claimed that although the TAPS management may have been indirectly responsible for the breaking glass, they were on-par with the individual who sold him the wine he drank.

“There are countless factors that enabled me to make that crappy decision. But, at the end of the day, I was the one who put my finger on the button,” he said.

The response was indicative, he said, of a trend he had noticed across University campuses of young people being stripped of their agency, and prohibited from taking accountability for their own actions. He said he understood the frustrations of the Queen’s community.

“There are very angry people at Queen’s right now, brewing over the fact they can’t go to QP. And they have no idea why,” he said. “They’re just looking for someone to blame, and I think they have the right to know both sides of it.”

Walker agreed that the AMS was under pressure from the University to make structural changes within the TAPS service to keep it running, but disagreed about the circumstances of the Head Manager’s departure.

“A lot has taken place over the past few days,” said a visibly-upset Walker. “And what has happened has led to [the TAPS Head Manager’s] dismissal.”

In the interim, Director of Hospitality and Safety Services, Brandon Kim, ArtSci ’16, and Walker will share the role’s duties.

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