‘Town to Gown’: Campus organizers talk community relations

Student leaders discuss how they’re contributing to the Kingston community

The Journal spoke to three student leaders passionate about helping the city. 

Queen’s students have made national news headlines following two weekends of Homecoming celebrations. The negative attention has put a strain on the relationship between students and Kingston residents—known as town-gown relations.

Brian Seo, Sci ’23, commissioner of clubs for the AMS, highlighted the passion the student body has for the city.

“The Queen’s community is a vibrant microcosm of the surrounding Kingston community and beyond,” Seo said in an interview with The Journal.

He praised, in particular, the Queen’s Project for International Development (QPID)—a student-run organization operating out of the Queen’s Engineering Society aimed at “empowering the Queen’s community to become catalysts for change.”

Emily Armstrong, ArtSci ’22, Community Outreach Commissioner for the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS), works with over 200 volunteers and 14 charities within her role.

“Each of these students are incredibly passionate and committed to donating their time and giving back locally,” Armstrong told The Journal in an interview.

Last year, ASUS was able to raise $7,000 for an assortment of community organizations.    

“We strive to help support groups that need it to help make Kingston a better place to live for everyone,” Armstrong said.    

Megan Divecha, ArtSci ’22, president of the Queen’s Student Alumni Association (QSAA), has a similar opportunity to work directly with the city in the context of alumni relations.  

“I have seen and experienced Queen's students work with the Kingston community, providing support, assistance and funding through various clubs and organizations, and this makes me proud to be a Gael,” Divecha said in an interview with The Journal

“I hope that this positive presence, one that Queen's students have been working to grow, will be felt and seen transforming our community relations.”

City councillor of community services Paige Agnew described the relationship between students and Kingston residents as “multifaceted.”

“As residents who use City services, work in the community and support our local businesses, all Queen’s students are members of the Kingston community,” she said.

Agnew highlighted City initiatives involving students—including the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge, student internships, and the City’s recent partnership with ASUS.

“There is plenty of untapped potential that students bring to the broader Kingston community and in many ways it is important to take time to acknowledge all of the good already taking place each and every day” Agnew said.

“Taking time to tell the positive stories needs to be prioritized.”

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