Public health officials call for increased fines and expulsions for students at Queen’s University

“It’s important that we set the tone early” Dr. Moore said

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020 by YGK News Staff

Amid a surge of large gatherings over the past week, Kingston Public Health is calling for strong action to be taken by Kingston and the Queen’s University administration.

At a Kingston City Council Meeting on September 15th, Dr. Kieran Moore, the Medical Officer of Health for Kingston had this to say: “Colleges and universities have to step up and use the code of conduct. If this keeps happening, we need Queen’s and St. Lawrence College to step up and say that they embrace prevention, they embrace deterrence and they will expel students who blatantly disregard an emergency civil protection act.”

The statement came as Kingston Police aggressively enforced the city’s nuisance behaviour since August 28th. Since then, 69 Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPs) have been issued and 255 noise complaints have been responded to. 

At the council, the city also voted to increased Administrative Monetary Penalties from $500 to $2000. Repeat offenders could be referred to the courts, where they would face fines of up to $100,000. City Council hopes this will further deter large gatherings within the city. 

We are asking colleges and universities to enforce policies they already have in place, the Medical Officer of Health said

Dr. Moore feels that the student code of conduct at both Queen’s University and St. Lawrence College need to be applied and enforced at their fullest extent.  

“Colleges and universities need to step up and use the code of conduct. Within the code, it’s clear that if you violate the city or provincial laws, the principal can use expulsion or discipline.” Dr. Moore said during the September 15th council. 

He also emphasized that Kingston has a vulnerable population and that there are currently active cases in the community. He specifically cited that Kingston Public Health is currently trying to trace up to 40 contact connected to a single individual who tested positive this month. 

When asked if these actions were taken at other universities, Dr. Moore didn’t directly respond, but said that he hopes that Kingston will be the first to embrace a stronger prevention strategy. 

Dr. Moore feels that universities sometimes need a ‘nudge’ to take action in these instances. He plans to meet with senior leadership at Queen’s University later this week about increasing enforcement measures. 

A Councilor also inquired about McMaster announcing that in person classes would be cancelled for the winter semester, and whether Queen’s University should follow suit. In response, Dr. Moore believes that it wouldn’t be advisable to hold in person classes in the winter, given that a vaccine isn’t expected until at least this summer. 

Watch the full city council meeting here:

Queen’s University Responds

A day after YGK News broke the story, Patrick Deane, Principal of Queen’s University, agreed to apply its Code of Conduct in instances where city and provincial laws have been blatantly disregarded.

“Any student whose behaviour ignores provincial and other applicable regulations and is identified as a potential community safety risk, will be referred for review under our Student Code of Conduct and will be subject to sanctions available under the Code, including expulsion from the university.” Principal Deane said in a statement.

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