Deane reassures students at meeting addressing Coronavirus party

Principal Patrick Deane addresses student concerns

Principal Patrick Deane at the JDUC on Thursday.
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Principal Patrick Deane hosted a meeting in the JDUC on Thursday regarding the Coronavirus-themed party that took place over the weekend and has since garnered widespread attention. 

“The main message that I want to send to all of you as international students who are here, from China and from East Asia, you’re vitally important members of this community,” Deane said. “You’re as intrinsic and essential to the good of this place as every other student here.”

Approximately 30 people were in attendance, including ASUS Representative Summer Chen, members of Queen’s Asian Student Association (QASA), and international students, who questioned Deane about what specific actions the University plans to take.

“When I first came to Queen’s in 2016, there was a costume party, which also raised a lot of concerns,” Yewon Kang, co-chair of QASA said. “After seeing this happen this year, it’s almost like a déjà vu feeling because this is happening again.”

Kang suggested integration practices should be put into place for international students.

“I see a huge divergence between international students and local students who have grown up in Canada,” she said.

In response, Deane said the University has taken some direct actions, like the “elevation of Human Rights Office,” but said Queen’s still has a lot to do to achieve successful inclusivity.

“If we’re thinking about universities as a truly international place, it should be a great importance to me, as a domestic student, to know where you all come from, what brought you here, and what I can learn about the broader world from knowing you better,” Deane said.

In the meeting, the University also provided professional support for students to go to. Among the members in attendance were counselling services, KFL&A Public Health, Campus Security, the Human Rights Office, the AMS, and the SGPS.

“We are really trying to come to any kind of action. We’ve been speaking to people and people keep on saying, ‘A statement’s fine but we need more.’ And that’s what we’re trying to do right now,” AMS President Auston Pierce told The Journal following Deane’s remarks.

According to Pierce, the AMS executive, SGPS, the Rector, and other campus partners have been meeting to address this culture problem since the Coronavirus party took place.

“As student leaders on campus, we’re the ones who have been going and talking to the University, and working together to make sure we actually come up with solutions,” he said.

Jared Den Otter, president-elect of the AMS, and Alexia Henriques, vice-president-elect (University Affairs) also attended the meeting. In a statement to The Journal, Den Otter said he’s thankful the administrators hosted the meeting. He said ensuring a safe space will be something Team AJA will prioritize next year.

“We need to work with all the students on the campus,” Henriques said.

With files from Aysha Tabassum.

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