In the eleventh hour, the AMS announced The AMS Pub Services (TAPS) would not be opening this year. It’s largely the University’s fault.
Restaurants in Kingston are now able to legally operate, as long as they abide by public health guidelines. By doubling or even tripling the guidelines set out by Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health—otherwise known as the real guidelines—without giving any consideration to student businesses that also need to survive the pandemic, Queen’s is overstepping.
It’s critical that members of the Queen’s and Kingston communities remain safe and abide by physical distancing and masking guidelines. But the economy doesn’t pause at the threshold of the University District. Many students rely on campus employment as a source of income.
Student services pay the University high fees to use the spaces they operate in but, of course, rent relief was not an option first presented by the Campus Operations Group (COG), the body that oversees campus reopenings. The AMS had to advocate for it.
Yes, the timing of the TAPS layoffs could have been better executed. However, some empathy should be awarded to the AMS for the COG’s disorganization and frequent vacation absences throughout the summer.
Queen’s announced on Aug. 7 it expected just 6,600 students to regularly be on campus this fall. Yet, reopening plans for some services had not yet been approved, meaning the University determined this number without factoring in student-run businesses. Just this week, The Grad Club announced it’s also unable to open due to University restrictions.
Queen’s recently designated the JDUC, home to the Queen’s Pub, a self-isolation building. The University then didn’t acknowledge the connection between this decision and the AMS’s failure to gain the COG’s reopening approval. Despite operating in the JDUC, the AMS wasn’t consulted about the University’s decision to make it a quarantine hub.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Queen’s has a pattern of either failing to consult with its students, or else doing a poor job of it.
Take Queen’s sexual violence policy. After a quiet handful of changes to the policy last summer—the time period during which students are the least engaged with campus affairs—Queen’s came under fire for failing to adequately consult the community about the policy and introducing changes that were dangerous to students.
Embarrassingly, Queen’s later suspended the sexual violence policy, promising a highly communicated, open consultation period for the community to provide feedback about policy amendments. While the consultation period was delayed due to COVID-19, it reopened on July 21.
Since then, the link to the consultation page has appeared in a grand total of three Gazette newsletters.
The pandemic isn’t going anywhere. If Queen’s doesn’t want student services to disappear for good, it should rememberit’s not a public health body and doesn’t have the authority to be.
Raechel Huizinga is a fifth-year English major and The Journal’s Editor in Chief.
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