The University District Safety Initiative is about punishment—not progress.
It worsens the relationship between student body and city by failing to consult our student representative bodies. In short: it misses the mark.
On June 11, Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf and Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson announced the pilot University District Safety Initiative. The initiative will see any person ticketed in the University District during Frosh Week, Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day attend court beginning in September.
Students’ identities will be public through the court docket. Subsequent to their court appearance, students will be subject to the University’s Non-Academic Misconduct (NAM) system.
None of these measures mitigate behaviour or consumption problems.
Last year, Kingston Police issued over 330 tickets during Homecoming—and only one-third of those went to Queen’s students.
Under the new initiative, people who are ticketed will not have the option to pay bail either through mail or online. Queen’s alumni and non-Queen’s visitors receiving a ticket would have to return to Kingston on a weekday to attend their court date.
Through an “information sharing” agreement between Queen’s and the City, both seek to expose students to further consequences after repeated misconduct-related offences. Paterson said the initiative will also change the way Kingston tickets during major street parties.
The communication strategy behind the policy remains vague, and its rules aren’t transparent. Modifying the ticket system doesn’t address the ambulances blocked, the streets crowded, or the hospital beds filled by students during street parties.
Further, there’s no clear delineation set for student parties in the University District. Identifying the borders of the district will be left to the discretion of Kingston Police.
If a person doesn’t know what not to do and where not to do it, it challenges the very possibility of behavioural change and progress.
According to AMS President Miguel Martinez, elected representatives were “informed” of the initiative, but not adequately consulted. This is cause for concern. If Kingston and Queen’s collaborate—and exclude the voices of AMS representatives—it invalidates the channels of communication between students and administration.
If Paterson and Woolf hope to avoid a negative student response, their policy-making process needs to be more conversational.
Students who behave irresponsibly when drinking often don’t deal with any repercussions beyond a fine. If drinking habits are to be curbed on campus, a solution is necessary—but the haphazard University District Safety Initiative is not it.
Both Paterson and Woolf say these changes are about behaviour, not students. But the principal of a university represents its students.
A rule employed evenly throughout the year targets behaviour. A rule employed on certain days, for certain groups and in a certain area, targets students.
—Journal Editorial Board
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