Response to Homecoming Gatherings
KINGSTON, ON/ Oct. 20, 2021 – Over the homecoming weekend, the AMS was disappointed to see large gatherings and inappropriate behaviour from some of our students and visitors. We condemn the misogynistic banners that hung from numerous houses with offensive and inappropriate statements on them. This behaviour directly contributes to a culture of misogyny and gender-based and sexual violence in our community; a culture that we continuously call on our administration, organizations, our peers, and our community members to actively work against. No student, alumni, or visitor should ever have to witness statements or behaviour of this nature that make women and other marginalized populations in our community unsafe and at risk of harm. We are thankful to those who have spoken up to address this issue and encourage others to do the same.
The AMS’ Social Issues Commission will be doing outreach over the next week to review the history of misogynistic signs/banners at homecoming, the harmful effect they have, and how to report it when you see one. To those who have been impacted by the signs hung last weekend, we are here to support you. We encourage those in need of support to utilize our Peer Support Centre as well as services such as Student Wellness Services, Sexual Assault Centre Kingston, and Kingston Interval House.
While we are disappointed by the large gatherings that took place over the weekend near Queen’s University, the AMS does not support the tactics taken by the police. The AMS was involved in prior conversations with the City of Kingston, Kingston police, and Queen’s administration to discuss safety, harm reduction measures, and law enforcement for homecoming weekend. The tactics that were deployed by the police are not what we were informed of, and we were surprised and disappointed by the over-policing of our students. Furthermore, we were disappointed to see our university support such tactics. Various student leaders and students at large have expressed to the AMS their concerns and negative experiences with police during homecoming weekend. We must prioritize more effective methods of harm reduction and safety over policing and security.
While we understand concerns from community members, it is important to note that the police this weekend exacerbated the events of homecoming and the tactics were not only ineffective but excessive. The over-policing of students and the presence of provincial riot police was unnecessary, and we have seen many accounts of police showing undue aggression towards students. For marginalized students from communities that are historically over-policed, this presence was especially harmful.
Last week, Queen’s committed to giving the City of Kingston a donation of $350,000. The city is now deciding how to spend the money, and we have created a petition calling on them to allocate it towards harm reduction measures, Kingston health care, and other social services. We believe the best approach to addressing this issue focuses on safety rather than security, and have created this petition so that students may advocate towards how this money is spent.
Moving forward, the AMS will be addressing our concerns directly with the City of Kingston and Queen’s Administration. We will continue to promote respectful and safe practices and behavior as well as harm reduction measures for our students. In continuation of our Social Issues Commission’s outreach prior to homecoming, we will also be sharing safety and legal resources for our students and information regarding students’ rights when dealing with law enforcement, police maltreatment, Kingston emergency orders, and party by-laws, and public health regulations and guidelines.
There is no denying that Homecoming is a special time for Queen’s students and alumni alike. We ask our students to reflect on the privilege of being once again in-person and on-campus this year. If you plan to engage in activities with friends, please socialize in small groups and help keep our community safe and together.
Alma Mater Society (AMS) – //www.myams.org
The central undergraduate student government at Queen’s University, the AMS represents over 19,000 students and is the oldest student government in Canada. There are over 1,000 student volunteers and 700 paid staff.