Uncovering leaders: ‘Owen the Rector’

Owen Crawford-Lem discusses his approach toward street parties, student conversations on Indigenous identity, and community relations

The Rector says if you have an idea, there’s a place for it at Queen’s.
Credit: 
Queen's University

Owen Crawford-Lem, ArtSci ’23, was elected in March 2022 as Rector—one of the three highest officers of the University. 

He is already known as “Owen the Rector” amongst some of his peers.

Along with checking in with the AMS and the SGPS, one of Crawford-Lem’s main responsibilities is to ensure student concerns are listened to and adequately attended to, he said in an interview with The Journal.

In light of the recent report on Indigenous identity at Queen’s from the First People’s Group, Crawford-Lem spoke about his responsibility to consult those students affected directly by issues of Indigenous identity and ask them about their thoughts and concerns.

“We need to make sure to communicate [student concerns] to the University, and the people who are making the policy and procedure decisions,” Crawford-Lem said.

Street parties are one of the “hottest” topics of discussion and have amassed varying opinions from different stakeholder groups, according to Crawford-Lem.

“It’s no question there certainly has been tension between Kingston and Queen’s,” he said.

With goals of making street parties both safe and enjoyable, Crawford-Lem consulted various stakeholder groups, including students, Queen’s administration, and the Kingston community.

“[We are] exploring how can we make [street parties] the safest experience possible for students while also maintaining the Queen’s experience, and what we know and love,” Crawford-Lem said. 

“We have a lot of stakeholders, and I think the only way to get to the crux of the issue, is if we involve everyone and make sure everyone has a voice in this process,” he said.

Crawford-Lem has partaken in various community engagements as Rector, specifically with United Way. Recently,he participated in the United Way Day of Caring, alongside the Principal’s Office, a few teams from the Smith School of Business, and other teams from around Queen’s.

The project involved building sheds and helping with upkeep for the Kingston Indigenous Languages Nest (KILN).

“[Volunteering] provides tons of outside-of-class learning and means you connect to Kingston a little bit more than just having four years of university experience here,” Crawford-Lem said.

He encourages students to reach out, no matter the size of the issue, as he has many extra resources for students and can help with “pretty much anything and everything.” 

“I’d be happy to either point you in the right direction or provide some advice and guidance and counseling because the university can be a very complicated place,” he said. “There’s a lot going on, an insane amount of resources for students, but the toughest part is just finding them.”

Crawford-Lem is excited for students to delve into the opportunities available at Queen’s, as Queen’s “bustles” back to life.

“There are so many things at Queen’s you can get involved with. Find your little community because that’s what Queen’s is all about.”

Reach out to the Queen’s Rector here.

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