Darts & laurels 2021-22

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Darts

Students talk police presence over homecoming weekends: During homecoming weekend of October 2021, Queen’s students alleged significant police presence and brutality at the traditional street parties. Although some students were breaking COVID-19 guidelines, singling people out for tickets in violent or otherwise inappropriate ways didn’t convey the level of respect necessary to bring the situation under control. Further, a donation of $350,000 from Queen’s to the City of Kingston—which contributed to police funding—inspired discussions about the University’s lack of advocacy for student needs.

Queen’s doctoral students say they were racially targeted: On Jan. 6, two students from the Queen’s Faculty of Graduate Studies were victims of a racially motivated attack when a driver came close to hitting them. The students involved bravely spoke up about their experience. This attack highlights the reality for marginalized students living in Kingston—there are valid reasons for them to feel unsafe both on and off Queen’s campus.

Queen’s not recognizing National Day for Truth & Reconciliation as statutory holiday: The University’s failure to acknowledge the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation as a statutory holiday is unacceptable. Hosting reconciliation events was a positive gesture, but students and faculty must have a proper opportunity to reflect on Canada’s colonial history and how they can participate in reconciliation. Queen’s has the power to properly acknowledge the holiday as an institution—it’s the least that can be done.

Former AMS senior management staff speak to why they resigned: After three AMS senior management staff members resigned in September 2021, former staffers recalled their experiences with the overwhelming workload, racial bias, and cliquey culture still present within the workplace. While unacceptable, these circumstances are especially disappointing because to RTZ promised to address all these issues during their term and didn’t follow through. Disrespecting and compromising the safety of AMS staff is irresponsible—and the situation should’ve been better and more transparently handled by the executive in the aftermath.

Homecoming signage sparks conversation: Tasteless and misogynistic signs during Homecoming 2021 brought to light the prevalence of misogyny within Canadian universities at large. The issue is separate from Queen’s “party culture” and should be addressed appropriately by both the University and students. Discussion around the signs and their impact is a good first step, but deliberate, transparent action from the University is necessary to make the streets surrounding campus safe for sexual assault survivors and students in general.

‘Disabled at Queen’s U’ Instagram shares experiences of students with disabilities: The Instagram account @disabledatqueensu is a positive initiative shedding light on the current gaps in QSAS procedures and other resources for student academic accessibility on Queen’s campus. However, it’s disheartening to see how many students have had dehumanizing experiences when advocating for their own health. The change towards making an understanding and accepting institution should be driven by university staff and administration—not just by students alone.

AMS survey alleges disproportionate targeting of students of colour by police: The survey issued by the Social Issues Commission (SIC) is a good foundation for discussing Queen’s students’ experiences with Kingston Police. With racialized students representing a disproportionate amount of those target by police, the survey’s results anticipated change in how Queen’s approaches its relationship with policing. Unfortunately, the lack of follow-up to the results was disappointing. This isn’t an issue that can be solved overnight, but the AMS and the University must start making concrete changes now.

Freedom Convoy rolls through Kingston: Everyone has a right to protest, but as soon as protests compromise the safety of others, they’re crossing the line. The freedom convoy was a perfect example, making pedestrians feel targeted and unsafe on their own streets. COVID-19 restrictions may feel tiring but taking over cities taints the concept of “fighting for freedom”—all thanks to those who’ve likely never truly had their freedom compromised. Any presence of Nazi flags in a demonstration is unacceptable—it’s unfortunate this hurtful show of white supremacy went on for as long as it did.

Walkout saw thousands gathered at Summerhill: A large gathering with good intentions, the AMS-organized walkout against sexual violence last fall inspired too much criticism and not enough follow-up. It was disappointing to see how the Queen’s community was able to unite in a short time period for a good cause but also fail to put the same amount of effort in making change within the university culture. Education and continued discussion are important in combatting sexual violence—impact is much more important and relevant than intent. 

Classes to be delivered remotely until March 2022: While a necessary safety precaution, the University’s cancelation of in-person classes for the winter semester lacked the preparation for students and faculty to comfortably move online. The abrupt move echoed the University’s lack of proactive decisions throughout the fall semester, as Queen’s failed to necessary steps to mitigate the significant spread COVID-19 spread among students. Simply returning to campus for wasn’t the priority—doing so in a safe, respectful, and efficient manner was.

Laurels

Queen’s Women’s Rugby wins 2021 U Sports Championship: The Queen’s Women’s Rugby team’s  national gold medal win was a huge moment in Queen’s sports history and the appropriate reward for a stellar season. This accomplishment is a highlight in an overall incredible year for Gaels athletics, with many teams—including Men’s Volleyball—earning recognitions across Canada.

Queen’s Hospitality Services gears up for Ramadan: A good start should always be acknowledged, and the extended operations of Hospitality Services for Ramadan is just that. The changes will be in effect throughout April 2022 to accommodate Muslim students who are celebrating. This is a proud achievement born from collaboration between Muslim dons, students, ResLife staff, and QUMSA, and is a welcome example of Queen’s acknowledging minority religions’ celebrations.

Queen’s to participate in new bursary for Black & Indigenous student-athletes: The Black or Indigenous Heritage Student-Athlete Bursary sponsored by the OUA is a great addition to Queen’s financial supports, and will hopefully draw Black and Indigenous athletes to the Gaels. Bursaries are a necessary step towards reducing monetary barriers for student-athletes. Though Queen’s must ensure Black and Indigenous student-athletes have a safe and welcoming experience once they begin their studies, the bursary is a good start towards welcoming these athletes.

Nobel prize winning Queen’s Alum sits down with ‘The Journal’: David Card—recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions in labour economics—is a Queen’s alum bringing hope and inspiration to the university’s current students. It’s lovely to see someone from our home turf making a positive impact. Card’s experience is a reminder that Queen’s students can build a meaningful career with the degrees we earn here.

Walkout saw thousands gathered at Summerhill: Though the event should’ve been safer and survivor-centric, its significant attendance is a good sign—our community clearly cares about combatting sexual violence. Sexual violence is a difficult topic to discuss, and the Board is hopeful the event served as a platform for dialogue that will improve how the AMS handles advocacy on this topic going forward. Moreover, it’s encouraging to see the topic of sexual violence at Queen’s is important to the SIC.

Senate votes to approve introduction of new Black Studies program: On Sept. 28, the Queen’s Senate supported the introduction of a new Black Studies program within the Department of Gender Studies—a wonderful decision. Assuming the program will support Black scholars, the initiative should help to shatter the whitewashed culture surrounding academia at Queen’s. Everyone on campus can benefit from this program—especially Black Canadian academics who’ll have more opportunities to teach, study, and research in an accepting space.

Queen’s-PSAC 901 agreement ratified by both bodies: PSAC 901’s success in reaching a new agreement with the university for graduate workers is tremendous victory. The new agreement is the result of extensive advocacy work from union members, who’s demands were justly met. This victory will also hopefully pave the way for more opportunities for other campus unions to advocate for their workers.

‘More than your grade 12 history textbook’: New Indigenous studies major to be launched in fall: The new program’s launch is a long overdue step towards challenging the institutionalized colonialism in Queen’s academia. The University must dedicate the necessary funding and resources to make the program a safe, welcoming, and successful space. This program stands to benefit all students who should take the opportunity to broaden their learning and engage with Indigenous knowledge.

QUMSA advocates to preserve prayer spaces around campus: QUMSA’s efforts to preserve vital prayer spaces during the JDUC’s renovation is an inspiring example of student advocacy. Although it’s disappointing the AMS and the University failed to act proactively and collaborate on a plan to preserve the spaces, the support Muslim students have received from the Human Rights and Equity Office and the Faith and Spiritual unit is promising.

Mandatory Bus-it fee passes at AMS Winter Referendum: The reinstatement of the mandatory Bus-it fee is cause for celebration—the program makes Kingston transportation more accessible and affordable for students. The Journal issued an editorial on AMS’s failure to bring back the program this year that resonated with many students, and we hoped it would help spark necessary change. Advocacy for the Bus-It program was a nice example of the Queen’s community coming together to affect real change.

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