Principal Patrick Deane hears students’ concerns during first open forum

At first meeting, Deane responds to concerns over international tuition fees, racist incident at Chown Hall

Principal Patrick Deane addressed racist incident at Chown Hall, international tuition fees at first open meeting.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Principal Patrick Deane has launched an open forum initiative to start a conversation with the University community to inform the institution’s next Strategic Framework , a long-term plan developed by Queen’s administration.

The open forum aims to bring together students, faculty members, and alumni to discuss issues that matter most to the university community.

In the first open meeting on Oct. 15, Deane expressed his hope that the conversation would be free-flowing and all participants would express their vision for the future of the University.

“The University does its work in challenging circumstances,” he said. “We have issues both within and without our institution that we need to think about as we think about the future for the University as we map it out.”

He introduced the forum discussion by asking participants what they believed should be the aspirations of the University, how they wanted the university to be perceived in the broader community, and how they envisioned the ongoing role of international education in the institution.

The first participant spoke about the role of international students at the university. “Graduate students are the core blood of a university in many regards,” she said.

She also expressed discontent with international tuition fees, which are much higher than domestic tuition fees.

“This means from day one, when you enter as an international student, you have more pressure on you to finish on time, to get that done. You’ve been told to curb your enthusiasm, don’t think as big as other students because you have to finish in four years because of the financial situation.”

In response, Deane said, “For me, the most reprehensible model of internationalization is the one that sees students, graduate or undergraduate, as essentially a way of funneling revenue into the universities to subsidize domestic students or to make up for the underfunding situation in the universities.”

“To me, any approach to internationalization in this university will have to be modeled on an entirely different set of ethics and values.”

Following the discussion on internationalization, the forum’s next discussion topic was the racist and homophobic incident that took place at Chown Hall in the beginning of October.

One participant expressed her concern that the nature of the hate crime would not be properly addressed in everyday conversation.

“To call it a racist poster isn’t untrue,” she said, “but these were death threats seemingly from their neighbours, from other students.”

“The young people in the room who, in the circle, particularly the Indigenous and/or gay and/or people of colour who were there, are scared,” she continued, referring to a talking circle that had taken place earlier in the day at the Four Directions centre.

Other participants shared their hopes for a path forward.

“First and foremost, I think this incident is a blessing in disguise,” one participant said. “Indigenous students on campus have been saying there is systemic and embedded racism for years. My whole career here at Queen’s we’ve been saying this and finally, we’re being listened to.”

Principal Deane expressed his intent to speak with those at the Four Directions centre and discuss the necessary actions the University must take.

“I think you also put your finger on a really important issue which is, this is the responsibility of the whole University to address, but not the whole University has a right to speak to these issues,” he said. “So that’s a complex dilemma to work through.”

At the conclusion of the forum, he expressed his hope that participants would continue to engage in the conversation and attend future open forums.

The next forum will be held on Nov. 11 in Stirling Hall. 

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