When looking at a university’s history, there’s often no better place to turn than the campus newspaper. Looking at old headlines provides students with a history of Queen’s past, we’re able to see how far the university has come in tackling issues—and where we’re repeating the same mistakes we made decades ago.
While this week marks The Queen’s Journal 150th anniversary of continuous publication, many of the headlines over the years have shared similar themes.
I often dive deep into the pages of Vol. 120, the year of my father’s tenure as Editor in Chief. Published in 1992-93, I consider it a relic of the past. However, when I started writing at The Journal this year, it became clear that many issues faced by students 30 years ago are all too familiar to current Queen’s students.
No matter the size, events of all calibers have been showcased in The Journal throughout its history. One may think flipping through endless pages of Journal archives allows us to see every problem the University has faced in the past, but this isn’t the reality.
The Journal reached out to former News Editor Vol. 120 and current Toronto Star reporter Kristin Rushowy about her time at the student-run publication. She spoke about the various issues she covered during her time at Queen’s.
In her time as The Journal’s News Editor, major headlines included the gift of the Herstmonceux Castle Estate—Bader College—to Queen’s, the Charlottetown constitutional referendum, and the attempted rebranding of the “student ghetto.”
Similarly, the same volume saw The Journal releasing print articles twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays, as opposed to the paper’s digital first approach now with a print edition every other Friday.
“We had such a great time putting out The Journal—two press nights a week and print product only,” Rushowy said, noting there was no internet at the time and they had to use a darkroom for printing photos. “We were often there until two or three a.m., and then had to head to class the next morning. Exhausting, but exhilarating.”
Rushowy noted collecting news was quite different thirty years ago. “[There were] no Zoom calls. No written or email statements. No pulling information off the internet,” Rushowy said. “We’d tape record interviews or take notes, and transcribe. All photos had to be taken or submitted, no pulling from social media.”
Homecoming is a time for alumni to come back and reminisce with their class, go to a football game, and reconnect with the Queen’s campus.
In both 1992 and 2023, Queen’s faced the Ottawa Gee-Gees at their homecoming game where the Gaels emerged victorious both times.
Homecoming has always been a source of controversy over the years, with tensions between Kingston residents and Queen’s students peaking during Homecoming weekend.
“Town-gown relations will always be an issue. The particulars may vary year to year, decade to decade […] Homecoming controversies, however, are a constant,” Rushowy said.
Even in 1992, Queen’s students faced the same liquor charges many face today during Homecoming. An article in Vol. 120 reported that 58 liquor related charges were handed out during Homecoming weekend which took place October 17 and 18 in 1992.
This year, The Journal reported 134 Part I summons for open liquor, with fines from the weekend amounting to over $57,000, distributed over the celebratory weekend.
In both 1992 and 2023, the AMS worked to educate students prior to Homecoming about the charges they may face if they break the law. Vol. 120 featured an entire page on various fines students could face, including a $103 fine for open liquor.
This past year, The Journal covered the AMS’s social media campaign that sought to educate students on the various fines and penalties they may face, while teaching students about their legal rights.
In Vol. 120, there were several headlines on sexual violence that students faced both on campus and in Kingston as a whole.
On September 11, 1992, there was a notable article that appeared with the headline “Principal Smith welcomes, warns class of ’96” concerning the convocation speech delivered by Queen’s then-Principal David Smith. His verbal address raised concern about sexual assault and sexual violence. This important issue became a major topic covered in subsequent issues of The Journal.
Many articles focused on the creation of Bill C-94, which was new sexual assault legislation discussed in both news article and editorials in The Journal. One story detailed a woman who put up posters that alerted people of a sexual assault that had taken place on William St. There were many follow-up articles on the subsequent impacts.
Another notable story covered a Queen’s professor who was convicted of sexual assault but was allowed to continue teaching, .This story was reported on in the January 15, 1993 issue. The story first appeared with the headline “Prof convicted of sexual assault against his stepdaughter,” and was written about further in subsequent issues.
The Journal continually touched on the sexual harassment at Gordon House in 1989, which was mentioned in Editor in Chief Rob Nicol’s Last Words. In 1989, two residents of Gordon House put up misogynistic signs with the phrases, “No Means More Beer” and “No Means Kick in her Teeth.”
Nicol wrote on the topic of the signs at Gordon House, which made its way to the front page of the Toronto Star.
“It [Gordon House incident] woke us up from our complacency, from our stupidity, our ignorance, and our apathy,” Nicol wrote in his Vol. 120 Last Words.
Similar to the issues faced in 1993, The Journal published an article revealing the increase in sexual violence response service requests that occurred in 2023.
Although there’s been progress on campus to better support sexual violence survivors since 1993, sexual assault remains a prevalent issue at Queen’s.
The Journal published an article on Take Back the Night, a rally to support victims of sexual assault, in its September 22, 1992 issue where over 200 people participated taking a stance against sexual assault. In covering the event, The Journal interviewed multiple participants in the march to find out the importance of the night.
In 1993, marcher Beth Schilling said in an interview with The Journal that “women have to realize violence does happen and we have to demand it stops.”
Take Back the Night is still held on campus, though based on The Journal’s coverage, attendances has dropped significantly.
Historically, University rankings have been a point of pride for Queen’s students and are still a topic that’s highlighted in The Journal today.
In The Journal’s November 6, 1992 issue, Queen’s was ranked the third best university in Canada by Maclean’s, behind McGill and University of Toronto. The Journal later expressed in an editorial that students and staff felt it was a disappointing drop from ranking second in the previous year.
In contrast, Vol. 151 wrote an article on university rankings, detailing Queen’s was ranked 12th in Canada by Times Higher Education, a significant drop from 1993 that Principal Patrick Deane has called depressing. Similarly, to Vol. 120, Queen’s staff and students believe the University should be ranked higher.
Recently, Queen’s University ranked higher in a different area, ranked third in the world by Times Higher Education in their efforts towards the Sustainable Development Goals, exciting Queen’s students.
The editorial board of Vol. 120 took a critical stance on the AMS in a myriad of ways. Instances of this include a cartoon depicting the AMS drawn as infants and an editorial on students’ negative attitudes towards the legitimacy of their student government. The editorial asserted the AMS didn’t properly represent students.
Vol. 151 has been less outwardly critical of the AMS, but still published a story on the AMS that shed both positive and negative light on the AMS as a workplace. Some students stated that it gave them work experience that was invaluable for their resume, while others spoke on the harmful power dynamics.
In Vol. 151, the editorial board criticized the AMS and said “a more thorough review of Boris Cherniak’s performance would and should have prevented the racially insensitive scene performed at Gael Orientation pre-week.”
All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.