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Alex Wang, ArtSci ’22, was at Stauffer library finishing an assignment on the evening of Nov. 5. While working, Wang decided to momentarily pull his mask down to air it out. That’s when a security guard approached him.
“You’re supposed to cover your nose—I know that—but it hadn’t been for more than 30 seconds,” Wang said in an interview with The Journal.
Wang said the security guard told him in a stern voice that he was being given a “last warning,” despite not having received any prior warning to wear a mask.
Confused, Wang asked when his first warning was.
“[The security guard] said, ‘I don’t care, get out’,” Wang said.
“I was embarrassed at this time because I looked around and everyone was looking over to my direction. I’m pretty sure people all the way across the library were looking.”
Eventually, security took Wang’s backpack, which was sitting on the table, and told him to leave.
“I didn’t do anything that warranted such a reaction. I thought I deserved at least one warning,” Wang said.
Feeling upset after his bag was taken, Wang asked the security guard if he was abusing his power. He says the guard responded, “I am and I will […] I don’t like your looks.”
Looking back on the incident, Wang believed there was a chance the security guard was confusing him with another Asian student who may have been given a warning to wear their mask. While Wang understood the guard may have been having a “bad day,” he still felt unfairly targeted during the encounter based on his race.
Wang added that he saw the security guard multiple times that night and alleged the guard gave only light warnings to his white peers.
“I could tell it was targeted because I saw him talking to other people […] mostly white people and he would just give them a light warning.”
“I wasn’t harassing the security guards. I wasn’t harassing other students. I’m not being a menace,” Wang said.
When asked what he hopes students will take away from his encounter with campus security, Wang said he didn’t want just an apology from Queen’s, but real change.
“I know that [Queen’s] contracts the security guards, but I think they should definitely run some form of formal training [on upholding health and safety regulations],” Wang said.
Wang believes the University should do better research on who they’re hiring and would appreciate if there were more people of colour on the security staff.
In an email sent to The Journal, Mark Erdman, manager of community relations and issues, said the University is committed to promoting a “respectful and inclusive environment.”
“The University takes these complaints very seriously, and we are looking into the matter,” Erdman wrote on behalf of the University.
Wang said he hopes his experience doesn’t “discourage” students from coming to Queen’s.
“I had a very good experience here, and I would really like it if this saw some form of resolution before I graduate,” Wang said.
“I’m just here like everyone else. How about forget about my race, my gender, and my looks—I’m just a student.”
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