Principal Woolf issues statement about off-campus party

After investigation by Provost concludes, Woolf announces new inclusivity-focused advisory group

On Monday evening, Principal Daniel Woolf issued a public statement on his blog, concluding that — after an investigation by Provost Benoit-Antoine Bacon into the off-campus party that gained national attention last week for the controversial costumes that were worn — no formal punitive process will be undertaken through the Queen’s Student Code of Conduct.

The investigation, Woolf wrote, was “not a “witch hunt,” as some have opined on social media, but simply due process”. In regards to taking action through the Student Code of Conduct he wrote it wouldn’t fix the issue and rather “what is needed is a broader, sustained, and more meaningful conversation around these issues.”

The Code of Conduct’s Scope (under Section iii), specifies that it may apply to off-campus events in the instance that a student is participating in a sanctioned activity, regardless of where that activity takes place.

As well, if a student’s conduct has a “real and substantial connection to the legitimate interests of the University, including but not limited to its reputation or goodwill in the community,” sanctions may be taken.

If the student “represents, claims to represent or would reasonably be perceived to be representing, the University or an organization affiliated with the University,” or if the event happens through electronic media, regardless of where it originates, where there is a clear connection to the University community, the Code may apply.

“There is no doubt that the party in question made some of our community members feel upset, marginalized and degraded, and that the decisions made by some students were insensitive and exhibited very poor judgment,” Woolf wrote.

As for the actions the administration plans to take in response to this investigation, Woolf announced the formal creation of a new advisory group comprised of students, faculty, and staff members “to examine the issue of inclusivity at Queen’s and make both immediate and long-term recommendations for change.”

This group will consult widely with the Queen’s community and bring a report back to Principal Woolf by the end of the academic year.

One of the group’s first tasks will be to review previous work done at the University and to determine whether there are barriers that have prevented previous recommendations from being successfully implemented.

The party, which occurred on Nov. 19, sparked widespread attention when photos of some of the costumes worn to the party surfaced on social media in the days following the event.

The public “Overheard at Queen’s” Facebook group saw thousands of students engaging in arguments and debates around the issue, extending to other platforms like Twitter and Medium.

Queen’s was put the center of national media attention when outlets like The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, VICE Canada, Buzzfeed and the CBC picked up the story.

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