Mayor, University defend safety initiative amid controversy

AMS Assembly challenges new ticketing system, students react to fines

AMS Assembly asks tough questions of Harris, Paterson.
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At AMS Assembly last Thursday, Mayor Bryan Paterson and then-Acting Principal Tom Harris defended the University District Safety Initiative to attendees.

The Initiative, which came into effect Sept. 1, requires anyone who receives a ticket in the University District during Frosh Week, Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day to appear in court. 

At Assembly, Mayor Paterson said, "Although the initiative is not targeted to students, we are calling it that because this is where we have seen most of the activity."  

Paterson added the Initiative required students to "physically appear in a courtroom to appear before a judge and recognize that 'okay this is a real issue' in the context of street parties. " 

Paterson cited last St. Patrick's Day, where over 40 students stood on top of a shed, causing the roof to collapse. He said his phone started ringing “almost immediately” and emergency said the students came close to being injured or killed.

The event led to Woolf and Paterson beginning to discuss the response.

“And to be honest with you, my concern is that it was only a matter of time before somebody was seriously injured or killed, and we have to react to that,” he said.  

Paterson said the large street parties are a “concern to the community, and our feeling is that some interaction face to face is what’s important." 

Leading the period of questioning was ASUS President Sagal Sharma, who said the initiative came off as "very intimidating" to marginalized students attending the University.  

"To marginalized students, students of colour, as well as international students and Queen's, it comes off as very intimidating especially during their first week at the University," Sharma said. 

Quentin Tsang, PHE President and KIN ’19, also questioned Harris and Paterson about the first scheduled court Nov. 20.

“I understand that it is during peak midterm season for the undergraduate population, which is the majority of the population, so have there been academic considerations for that and have you also considered the mental health of students who may be vulnerable at this time," Tsang said.

“How can we justify [to] tax payers in the Kingston community to increase the volume of individuals showing up and clogging our court system,” Tsang said. “How can we justify that to our community members?"

EngSoc President Carson Cook asked what research was being done into other methods of addressing street parties.

Harris said the University has looked into possible solutions.

"If we had a solution here we would settle it, but we don’t," Cooke said. 

Students Frustrated By UDSI Ticketing Initiative

The ticketing initiative has sparked mixed emotions on campus.

In an interview with The Journal, Everett Code, Sci ’19, recalled his experience with police during Orientation week this year. According to Code, two officers riding bicycles approached him while he was walking to a friend’s house. 

"I was casually drinking one beer and just decided to take it over to have a chill night with friends who live a couple doors down, until two cops came up and gave me a ticket," Code said.   

"They told me they had zero discretion in the decision to give a ticket or not during Frosh week. Not having a choice to give a ticket to someone who hasn’t caused a disturbance shouldn’t be happening." 

Code said other students were given a warning for the exact same actions.  

One of those students, who spoke with The Journal on condition of anonymity, had been crossing the street before being stopped by the police. 

"I didn't have my ID on me, so they just gave me a quick warning and let me be," he said.   

Code isn't the only student to voice frustration with the new initiative. Another Queen's student, who spoke with The Journal on condition of anonymity, said a by-law officer "raised his voice aggressively and threatened to get an officer to give me a $600 ticket for trespassing and public drinking." 

The student, who requested to remain anonymous, said a by-law officer “chased” after her and “grabbed” her upper arm, pulling her onto the street. 

The student said she believes "officers are in place to protect students." 

 "Overall, this was a terrible and terrifying experience as a fourth-year student." 

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