Queen’s should grow from criticism, not hide behind school pride

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We all know what sets Queen’s apart from other universities is the school’s intense sense of spirit. But under the guise of maintaining this spirit, real student issues are swept under the rug.

If we love Queen’s as much as we say we do, we need to accept that it’s a flawed institution.

Coming from far and wide, students fall in love with their second home here. Perhaps that explains why we feel such an intense need to shield it from criticism.

However, the University has a history of neglecting the needs of many of its students. If we fail to recognize that, we make campus life overwhelmingly difficult for our peers. 

What’s worse is that when marginalized students come forward about their experiences, we often silence them.

This spring, a Queen’s commerce student spoke out about instances of racism and discrimination within the program. He addressed the hurtful experiences he’s faced, yet remained candid about his appreciation for the Smith School of Business. 

Instead of being taken to heart, his words were largely dismissed by many of my peers in Commerce, and even the executive director of the program.

This isn’t an anomaly: Queen’s community members often derail minority students’ concerns to protect the institution’s reputation. Criticisms can be perceived as a lack of gratitude for the privilege of attending the university in the first place. 

Incidents of racial intolerance are often diminished by our student body. A culture of sexual violence leaves students feeling unsafe. Racist graffiti is removed without any apparent effort toward protecting the students it targets. 

Queen’s has a lot to answer for. There’s plenty of valid criticism facing the University, and jumping to the school’s defense won’t make it go away. 

If we really love our home away from home, we need to work hard to leave it in a better condition than when we first arrived. Our world is changing, and we have to make sure the school we love can keep up.

The next time Queen’s is called out for unfair practices, its administrators need to make the necessary changes to rectify the problem. When a student is brave enough to reveal negative aspects of their time here, we need to ask how we can do better instead of silencing them.

We all have a responsibility to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to fall in love with Queen’s—or soon enough, there won’t be much left to love.

Aysha is The Journal’s Opinions Editor. She’s a second-year Commerce student.

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