Queen’s Bands Cheer will continue spirit, drop stunting

Team will forge ahead as pep squad  

Credit: 
Photo supplied by Jeff Chan.

After unsuccessful negotiations with the University and the AMS, Queen’s Bands Cheer has become a spirit squad.

The update comes after nearly a year of the group struggling to find insurance coverage for stunting activities.

Last November, the historic team received a notice from the AMS requiring members to keep one foot on the ground at all times during training, practices, and events. The order resulted in a disagreement with both Queen’s Athletics and the AMS over insurance. 

Cailin McNeely, ArtSci ’20, the team’s operations and finance manager, told The Journal in an interview the group has decided not to stunt anymore. 

“It’s out of the question,” she said. “We’re not going to get stunting back. There’s nothing we can do.” 

Over the summer, Queen’s Bands Cheer explored the option of finding insurance outside the AMS. However, if the group pursued insurance elsewhere, they’d lose affiliation with Queen’s, club space, and access to school events. 

“If we did want to get our own insurance, it’s a long and tiresome and expensive process that we just can’t afford,” McNeely said. “That was our last resort, and now it’s out of the question as well.”

The team didn’t revisit the idea of being insured with Queen’s Athletics. 

“They’ve just refused,” McNeely said. “There’s not a chance.”

McNeely expects an absence of stunting will cause more women to try out for the team than men—creating a need for more women’s uniforms. 

“[Women’s uniforms] are insanely expensive,” she said. “But we have to adapt to whatever we get thrown at us.”

Out of options, the club will rebrand as a pep and spirit squad. They will still be present at football games and parades to “light up the Queen’s spirit in the crowd,” according to McNeely.   

“We’re stuck, but we’re going to try to make the best of it,” she added.

The club will continue to be insured by the AMS, which will only cover low-to-medium risk activities.

Lifts, throws, and pyramids are classified as high-risk activities, according to Munro Watters, the current AMS vice-president (university affairs). 

In an interview with The Journal, Watters said the AMS was “actively discouraged from ratifying clubs that include hockey, football, rugby, swimming and cheerleading because of the fact that there is a higher level of risk involved.”

Jim Henry of Hub International Ontario Limited has been the AMS’ insurance broker since 1996. In May, he sent the AMS a letter informing them of the risk levels they should be allowing in clubs. 

According to Watters, the reason why Queen’s Bands Cheer avoided a risk assessment for over 20 years is because they hadn’t been following proper event sanctioning procedures.

“Queen’s Bands [Cheer] wasn’t following proper policy,” she said. “As a club, you need to go through our event sanctioning forms, and we notify every club of this when they re-sign their contract.”

“They had not been filling out the event sanctioning forms for a fairly long time.”

Because the AMS supervises over 300 clubs, Watters told The Journal it’s difficult to make sure every club is following the rules. 

“The only reason we found out is because the ARC adjusted their policies requiring a certificate of insurance if a club wanted to use any of their athletic spaces,” she said. 

McNeely claimed Queen’s Bands Cheer wasn’t informed of the exact reason why they could no longer stunt until this month.

Watters denied this.

“From the very beginning, the AMS remained open with Queen’s Bands regarding our concerns with the Cheer section,” Watters said. 

“We have had several conversations with the Heads of Cheer over the past year concerning the identified risks, encouraging questions and being very clear about what activities were being restricted and for what reasons.”

Going forward, Watters told The Journal the AMS will be more consistently monitoring clubs to identify any “red flags,” and make event sanctioning more accessible to prevent a similar situation from happening. 

“We’re really trying hard to redefine these processes, because with event sanctioning—the way it was set up—it was doable and feasible, but there were some things that made it difficult on our end and some things that made it difficult for other people,” she said. 

Watters stated stunting isn’t in the future of Queen’s Bands Cheer at this point in time.

“[Queen’s Bands Cheer] wasn’t taken in by Athletics and that’s really unfortunate, but we’re not an athletic department—that’s not what we’re built to be,” Watters said. “In terms of insurance and stunting, we’re at the end of that road.”

“We tried to explore every option and every avenue because this isn’t what we wanted.”

 

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