Queen’s must revaluate its relationship with the police

Simone Manning

Queen’s University must begin distancing itself from systems of policing.

 Throughout my years at Queen’s, I have contacted Kingston Police twice. The first instance was a result of a distressing late-night altercation in my neighborhood, and the second was in aid of a peer in crisis. Neither experience made me feel protected and I am a young, cis-gendered female afforded the privileges of integrating into an institutionally white university, having not yet reported instances of racialized or gendered violence.

 My experiences at this institution are not universal.  

 Prior to lockdown, Kingston Police had an egregious track record protecting marginalized communities on campus. Following the Chown Hall incident in 2019, police closed the investigation failing to make charges or arrests. Less than a year later, Queen's Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre was vandalized twice in the span of a month, with Kingston Police deeming these targeted attacks as hate-motivated crimes. As of April 2021, this investigation remains open and inconclusive.

 Not to mention the racist costume party at Queen’s in 2017, the anti-Black and anti-Semitic graffiti on campus in 2019, or the coronavirus-themed party last year, all of which embody a campus-wide history of perpetuating racist rhetoric.

 Queen’s University is the proverbial poster child of an academic institution steeped in the stale tea of white colonial supremacy.

This fact may seem incongruent to police presence on campus. However, it was recently reported that Queen’s is now applying the Student Code of Conduct to off-campus public health infractions—but not to off-campus acts of racism. The decision was brought to light at a recent Senate meeting, confirming the arrangement with Kingston Police and the City of Kingston.

While undergoing the transition back to in-person learning over the upcoming year, we must ask ourselves how students will be policed regarding public health violations and whether this will be effective.

Policing is inherently reactionary. Alternative, proactive measures must be taken within the campus community to reduce the risk of outbreak. Residence buildings and student groups must speak with students directly about resources needed to ensure a positive year post-pandemic.

More importantly, we must understand that education, public health, and policing are intersecting systems of social inequality for racialized communities.

Acts of racialized violence cannot be treated with impunity. As the University teams up with Kingston Police to crack down on public health infractions, the institution must equally support BIPOC students and Kingston community members who have been disproportionality affected by the pandemic.

This includes a reallocation of resources to mental health supports, financial scholarships and bursaries, affordable housing for students, and district-wide access to high-speed internet services. Queen’s must set the precedent for mutual aid, paving the path for reparations with marginalized communities by undoing decades of racialized violence and providing tangible resources.

As an institution with a connection to the greater community, the University must set the precedent in Kingston to dismantle and defund harmful systems of inequality and oppression.

Simone is a 4th year English student and one of The Journal’s Assistant News Editors.

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