“Daughter Drop off” sign sparks small protest outside of Brock St. House

Students, AMS and University speak out against offensive move-in day signs

One day after Queen's welcomed the Class of 2021, a group of individuals chose to protest a contenious sign hung outside a Brock Street home from September 3. 

Signs made from bed sheets hanging from several houses in the university district have prompted ire from students, the AMS and the university this year. One sign in particular, hung on a Brock Street house, read “Daughter Drop Off.”

The message sparked a small protest outside the home, and the outcry continued on Monday as photos of it were posted online. 

The story was picked up by Buzzfeed and has generated articles from The Huffington Post and Global News as well.

Protesters carried signs that read “I am a daughter,” and “You say: funny, I say: sexist.”

Jonathan Shepherd, ArtSci ‘17, attended the Monday protest with a sign that read, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets sexually assaulted.” 

“Provide education on the nature and necessity of consent,” Shepherd wrote to The Journal on Monday. “Our reactive response must be to make it clear that dismissive attitudes toward consent will not be tolerated, as the demonstration showed.”

Mike Young, a former Queen’s Rector who now works in the University’s Human Rights Office told The Journal that the issue of offensive signage targeting incoming students makes campus a “divided and difficult place to be for many, especially while we debate the merits of these signs and so many people remain steadfastly in support of their presence.” 

“And this year, yet again, we’ve had a strong reaction from people who are offering precisely how and why these signs are hurtful and produce often drastically negative consequences,” Young wrote.

The signage from move-in day has also drawn criticism from the AMS. Ramna Safeer, AMS commissioner of social issues, expressed in a statement on the issue that “these signs, by showing up on people’s porches every year, facilitated by those who put them up and validated by those who fail to intervene, are a signifier of a problem that is much bigger than a piece of paper and some marker.”

“Our work asks that when we see signs like this, we think about the normalizing culture that has led people to believe it is okay to make light of sexual violence,” Safeer wrote.

Though this particular sign drew attention, the problem of offensive signage aimed at first year students also has a much darker history than can be seen today.

As The Journal reported in 2015 in an article titled “Frosh week through the ages,” upper year Queen’s students have consistently displayed offensive signage since before the 1980s.

In fact, photos of move-in day from the 80s show signs that read things like “Welcome to Queen’s freshette where necrophilia is not dead,” and “How many fingers freshette?”

In 1997, signs hung on Highway 401 before Kingston read “Queen’s fathers: say goodbye to your daughter’s virginity!” and “Thank you Queen’s parents for dropping off your virgin daughters.”

This year, Principal Woolf spoke out on Twitter in response to the Brock St. sign, saying that he’s “extremely disappointed” with the behavior of some students near campus, and that “inappropriate and offensive signage is unacceptable, will not be tolerated and will be proceeded against under the Code of Conduct.”

In a statement published by The Gazette on Friday, Woolf wrote that it’s “disheartening that we still see [incidents of bad behaviour] despite our ever-intensifying efforts to encourage positive citizenship, respect and inclusion.”

“The words on the signs don’t bear repeating – suffice it to say they constituted a form of sexual violence that will not be tolerated at Queen’s,” Woolf wrote.

Woolf also wrote that these actions will not be “without consequence”, but that “due to significant privacy considerations, and in the interests of the safety and well-being of all students, we will not speak publicly about specific students or the individual outcomes of our student conduct and other campus safety processes.”

“While I appreciate that this may be frustrating, I assure everyone that the administration takes the issues of behaviour, respect, and inclusiveness very seriously. I expect all of our students to do the same.”

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