Queen’s offers students a chance to make their mark

AMS President details opportunities available to Class of 2023

Auston Pierce believes there’s a place for everyone to engage on Queen’s campus.
When you return home after your first semester at Queen’s, you might struggle to describe why it feels so special to be part of the Queen’s community.

You might struggle to tell your family what it felt like to put your tam on for the first time. You might find it hard to explain to your friends why you’ve spent all afternoon humming the Oil Thigh. You might question how to explain to your high school classmates why Queen’s is unlike any of the other institutions dotting our country.

It’s all hard to explain because these traditions—and the feelings accompanying them—can only be understood after considering the context of our institution’s history, along with the people and stories who have contributed to the foundations of our community. All of this allows the continued survival of this “tricolour spirit.”

For the next four years, thanks to that tricolour spirit, the Class of 2023 will have the opportunity to embrace and contribute to the history of this place.

For nearly two centuries, this University has hosted some of the world’s greatest minds, leaders, and educators. All of these people have been influenced and shaped by the traditions and values of togetherness and community unique to Queen’s. The stories of these former and current students—and the challenging times they faced—contribute to the story of our university and to the traditions and spirit we value.

Upon arrival on campus, we hear stories about students who came before us and strove to leave us with a community better than the one they found. This includes the stories of students leaving Queen’s to contribute to past war efforts and the students who spent almost a decade advocating and protesting against Queen’s connections to Apartheid in South Africa.

This history is important. It allows us to recognize, celebrate, and confront the legacies of our predecessors. It explains what Queen’s is and reminds us what makes Queen’s so special—as a community full of students who have historically united to advocate for issues they believe in.

Unfortunately, we’re now at a crossroads in the history of Queen’s as a lack of student engagement erodes the student experience.

In my time here alone, I’ve seen clubs struggling to engage students at their events. I’ve seen long-established conferences collapse seemingly overnight. I’ve even seen high-level student elections go uncontested time and time again. Meanwhile,we’re facing the burden of problems unique to our generation on a new scale, like climate emergencies, food insecurity, barriers to education, and mentalhealth concerns.

Despite increasing student disengagement, examples of Queen’s students’ desire to do good can be seen across campus.

Clubs like Jack.org and Step Above Stigma have fought for mental health awareness and action. Their efforts have inspired us in the AMS, who have been working to implement a new online counselling support system for our peers. When it comes to the environment, Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) has hosted protests calling for divestment from fossil fuels and have been working with campus stakeholders to implement new sustainability measures. Seeking the removal of barriers to post-secondary education, Students for Students stepped up to raise money for those affected by OSAP changes.

These groups are just a sample of the thousands of individuals and hundreds of clubs here at Queen’s who champion different issues. They follow their passions and do all they can to leave this place better than when they arrived.
This is what Queen’s spirit is about—and we need more of it.

Now more than ever, we must follow the trend of engagement established by our predecessors at Queen’s. We must all look out for one another and work together to address the problems facing us as students and as engaged members of our community.

Here at Queen’s, students have the opportunity to pursue their passions and to make meaningful and impactful change. Although it may seem daunting to address complicated issues like mental health, climate change, and financial uncertainty, it’s certainly possible—and for Queen’s students, it has precedent. We’ve constantly united around our traditions and around a common spirit predicated on the desire to do good and to give back to our community.

We have to continue to use thislong-standing spirit in the actions we take to better the lives of our peers and our University.

I would like to challenge the Class of 2023 to take up this mission to follow their predecessors and strive to make this place—and each other—even better.

Add your names to the list of other Queen’s students who pursued their passions and strove to make a difference on campus and beyond. Go out and get involved, step out of your comfort zones, join a new club, and pay it forward so the future of Queen’s and the student experience is stronger than it was before you got here.
I hope you all look out for one another, remember how your actions can impact your peers, and strive to contribute to something bigger than yourselves. Most importantly, I would like to challenge you all to have fun and pursue what makes you happy.

To everyone at Queen’s and in the incoming Class of 2023, I invite you to engage in what makes Queen’s so special.
Auston Pierce is a fifth-year Political Studies student and is the President of the AMS.

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