Chinese New Year couplets torn down in Victoria Hall

Cindy Liang and her roommate hope for a greater focus on inclusivity in residence 

Chinese Lunar New Year couplets torn down in Victoria Hall.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

On the first night back from their winter holiday, Cindy Liang, Comm ’23, and her roommate decided to hang posters in celebration of the Lunar New Year. 

Minutes after they finished decorating their door in Victoria Hall on Jan. 5, Liang’s roommate heard papers being torn down in the hall, followed by laughter. The girls peered outside their room to find their couplets in pieces on the floor as a group of male students disappeared around the corner. 

Liang decided against confronting the students out of fear for her immediate personal safety. In an interview with The Journal, she detailed contemplating whether they were intoxicated and considering the absence of security cameras in the halls of residence. 

The next night, Liang reached out to Residence Life staff, her don, and the Commerce Office to report the incident via email. Soon after, Genevieve Meloche, Residence Life coordinator, set up a meeting with the girls to file an incident report. Days later, the Commerce Office also initiated a meeting with the Diversity and Inclusion coordinator for the program, Mofi Badmos.

Commerce students are able to book appointments with Badmos via email or through an online portal, which had not been working for the past two months. After The Journal inquired, the link was fixed.

The incident wasn’t reported to residents of Victoria Hall by Residence Life to alert them of the misconduct. 

“We were very disappointed by an incident in early January that saw some door decorations and unrelated posters torn down in Victoria Hall,” Leah Wales, executive director at Housing and Ancillary Services wrote in a statement to The Journal.

“We strive to foster an environment where everyone feels welcome and included, and this kind of reckless behaviour works against those efforts,” she continued.

Liang remembers initially being angered by the incident, finding it “ironic” that such an event could occur even when “Queen’s [Student Affairs] puts diversity in its shared values.” 

As she began to receive this support, Liang detailed “not feeling as much fear as the night that [the posters were torn down],” but she still wonders what may have occurred if she hadn’t locked her door. 

Following the meetings with Residence Life, an investigation was launched into the incident by Meloche, which began more than a week after the girls hung up their Chinese couplets, following Meloche’s submission of a report to the Non-Academic Misconduct Intake Office (NAMIO). 

On Jan. 23, Liang and her roommate received an email telling them the investigation had concluded after one of the students responsible came forward to their don with a confession. The student expressed that they didn’t intend to target anyone and requested to send an apology letter to Liang and her roommate.

Meloche said in the email that she had suggested to the Residence Life Coordinator for Victoria Hall, as well as Liang’s don, that a “conversation about destroying people’s decorations and posters be addressed at the next floor meeting.”

From their initial meetings, it was understood by Liang that the actions of the responsible students would be reflected in their personal records. The email sent by Meloche regarding the investigation’s conclusion didn’t explicitly say that this action was taken.

Following the incident, Liang said she’s feeling safer, but she’s still unsure whether the posters were torn down as a result of her being targeted for her nationality. She thinks there’s a significant chance that the male students in the hallway just “pulled [the posters] off because it was fun.”

She’s since noticed other students hang Chinese couplets in residence which weren’t torn down.

Liang said she’s grateful to Residence Life for their handling of the incident, as well as to the Commerce Office for their added support. Moving forward, she said she feels students and faculty can “shoulder more responsibility in [discussing] how diversity really benefits a community.”

She said she also feels that minority students have a significant role in dealing with acts which may be racially motivated. She urged them to ask for help from the resources available to them when they need it, rather than coping with the pain alone.

“We should tell students who are not born in Canada to cherish their identity, or be proud of themselves. When you need something, go and ask for help instead of crying in your dorm or complaining with others,” Liang said.

 

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