A whopping 5,000 people have signed a petition demanding for ‘Queen’s students be held accountable,’ in light of an outbreak in Kingston’s university district. The outbreak led to a popular waterfront park being shuttered to the community, after hundreds of students gathered there last Friday.
“A large number of Queen’s university students have shown nothing but disrespect to the people of this beautiful city by the increasing carelessness of their actions when it comes to the covid pandemic that we are all facing,” said Christine Smith in her petition.
The petition also puts blame on students for “countless business closures” who Smith says have been forced to stay home without pay.
Smith is calling for the “campus and residence” to be closed down and for students to be sent home, except for those who have in person classes. Smith is also demanding that more fines be handed out to students who are breaking the rules.
“They are clearly not staying home, but we aren’t allowed to see our families? The City of Kingston needs to stop giving them special treatment and start punishing them for their actions,” said Smith in her petition.
Smith’s petition show’s a new level of tension between Queen’s students and residents, who have had a historically contentious relationship. The rocky relationship between the students and the residents of Kingston can be traced back to the 1980’s, where Queen’s developed a “horrendous” reputation among police and Kingston residents for homecoming.
Queen’s University’s Homecoming became increasingly more violent between 2005 and 2008, resulting in fireworks, property damage, cars flipped upside down and a high cost to Kingston taxpayers. In response to the outrage, former principal Daniel Woolf cancelled Queen’s University’s Homecoming from 2009 until 2013.
The current Queen’s administration, led by Principal Patrick Deane, has struggled to appease Kingston residents amid the Pandemic. In contrast to the Homecoming tensions of the early 2000’s, Queen’s University now has the authority to sanction the non-academic misconduct of students, which was largely in the domain of the Alma Mater Society at the time.
“Queens has done absolutely nothing to penalize these students regarding their actions, the police and bylaw just keep letting it slide. More than just the elderly are being put at risk,” said one petitioner.
In public posts, current Queen’s University students have lamented that these accusations don’t reflect the entire student population given that the majority of the students are completing exams.
“While I recognize some people are not treating it seriously, I’m tired of constantly being grouped in with them,” said one student on Reddit. “Do they not realize queens is a school of 30,000 students, most of whom are taking it seriously and making sacrifices? Seems like there’s no defence or support for students anymore even though many of us have taken so many precautions. Hope I’m not the only one feeling this way,” said the student.
Since the petition has gone viral, $36,000 in fines have been issued by Kingston By-Law officer’s and the Kingston Police for COVID-19 violations. There are currently 72 active COVID-19 cases in the Queen’s University community. There are no active cases in residence.