Webcam offline

Students pressured by administration to abandon plans for live Aberdeen Street party webcast

David Phillips
David Phillips

All virtual eyes and ears won’t be on Aberdeen on Saturday night as a result of pressure by the University to take down a webcam overlooking Aberdeen Street.

The ABERDEENcam, posted at the southwest corner of William and Aberdeen Streets, was the brainchild of Ian Macdonald, Comm ’09, and David Phillips, Comm ’09 and ArtSci ’09.

They are the co-founders of, which was to host the live webcast.

“It was up live on Tuesday at midnight until today at 12:46. … The original idea was just to leave it up permanently, but then we realized that it would require lots of maintenance, so we were planning on taking it down after Homecoming,” Phillips said.

Phillips said the goal of the initiative was to allow the public to get an uncensored and unbiased look at the Aberdeen street party.

“I’ve been here for five years and have attended Aberdeen for five years, and every year I know that it never lives up to the hype,” he said.

Phillips said the idea was met with opposition by University administration.

“There were two major concerns that they had. The first one was people would do inappropriate things in front of the camera,” he said. “The second was that it would create more negative hype for Queen’s Homecoming.”

Phillips said he feels as though some of the concerns were unjustified.

“It’s not possible for the university to get worse publicity and if this webcam had been shown in the last couple of homecomings it would have made the media portray it in a better light than it was getting.”

Phillips said it was recommended that he and Macdonald take down their webcam.

“The University is quite opposed to our initiative and they requested that we turn off the webcam permanently. … Having a live webcam, while it encourages free speech and gives viewers an accurate view of the situation, it does increase the risk because they don’t know what would be on the camera.”

Phillips said he and Macdonald ultimately made the decision to take down the camera, but have an alternative for their website on Saturday night.

“One of the things we’re doing instead is a time lapsed video of pictures from the night that will be going up early on Sunday. We’re also doing a blog where we’ve gathered a group of Campus Kings volunteers who will be updating it every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the night.”

School of Business External Relations Manager Amber Wallace said Phillips approached her for input about their ABERDEENcam initiative.

“Ian came by yesterday to express concerns about how Homecoming was portrayed in the media. He told us about him and Ian’s idea and we issued our concerns back to him about their initiative.”

Wallace said the discussion was reported to Dean of the School of Business David Saunders.

“We talked to the Dean about it, and he shares the same concerns.”

Director of the Bachelor of Commerce Program, Shannon Goodspeed was also present for the meeting with Macdonald. Goodspeed said she felt the initiative would not be met with the positive response expected by its creators.

“They were my concerns as director of the program and a member of the Queen’s community. I didn’t want to hear of an incident contrary to what Ian and David were trying to do,” she said. “I didn’t want people seeing a negative impression of Homecoming.”

Goodspeed said she doesn’t feel her resistance towards the webcam infringed on Macdonald and Phillips’ right to free speech.

“It’s not a form of censorship at all. … My major concern was with what would end up happening if the reverse happened and people felt the need to act out in front of the camera.”

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