Getting Back To Who We Are


Fellow students,

We wanted to address some regrettable incidents that have taken place in the past 24 hours, the past week, and throughout the past year. The challenge before us is to ensure that discussions and debates on this campus are conducted in a civilized, respectful and intellectually-driven manner that will at no time threaten the physical and psychological well-being of any student. Upon reflection of the last year, this has not been the case. We, as a community and as a student body, have lost our way in a number of debates.

Over the past year, we have seen some absolutely horrendous comments and personal attacks made about students at this University. At times, this has escalated into calculated slander and defamation of character. Hatred, bullying and exclusivity are not welcome at Queen’s. Furthermore, such actions are no less harmful when conducted over social media, and it is troubling that our sense of community and civility are seemingly discarded as soon as one is behind a keyboard. Freedom of speech is important – as is disagreeing candidly and constructively – but so are compassion and empathy. It doesn’t matter what medium is being used.

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Credit: Yearbook & Design Services

When we lose respect for each other and debate issues without genuinely listening to one another; when we make decisions based not on the merits of ideas but rather on who is saying them or their assumed motives, then we ultimately make ourselves irrelevant to the student community and the administration. We risk engendering cynicism and contempt throughout not only our student body but across the broader university community.

The cost of this is incredibly high. Why? Because even the most basic look at the history of Queen’s University reveals that students have not merely been consumers of an education but rather builders and shapers of the university itself.  That we have been successful in doing so is because at our best, we never lose sight of our fundamental belief that student involvement and initiative can be transformative, and that together we can better this University. But we cannot do so if we lose the same trust and respect of students that we have, at times this year, lost for ourselves.

We are young, we are growing, and we are programmed to make mistakes. It is from our greatest mistakes that we can learn the most. At all times, we must strive to be our best, and remember to “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”


Divided, absent respect for the inherent dignity that lives in each of us, and rife with unwarranted personal attacks, we risk damaging the legacy of our predecessors and sacrificing the opportunities of the students who will follow.

We must work together, to push this University, and to make it a better place for all. Generations of students before us have accomplished this, and we owe it to them, ourselves, and to future students to maintain that tradition.

Cha gheill.

Doug Johnson, AMS President
Mira Dineen, Vice-President (University Affairs)
Tristan Lee, Vice-President (Operations)

Ps. All week long, the Peer Support Centre is running #QueensTALKS – an event promoting healthy discussion of mental health, and giving advice on how you can talk to your friends about these sensitive issues. Check out the Peer Support Centre’s Facebook or Twitter for more info!

About Marketing & Communications Office

The editor-in-chief of this blog, the AMS Marketing & Communications Officer is charged with informing students about the activities of the society, facilitating two-way communication, and encouraging participation in student government and employment! You can reach the current Marketing & Communications Officer, Mackenzie Biddie at


  1. Again, all of this is due to how much students get worked up over the politics here. Many students i know dont give two hoots about any of this. Its only the students that get overly involved and overly dramatic that create these issues and its only them it affects.

    Yes, the rape culture is a bigger issue, but its the student politics that made it a much bigger and dramatic issue than it should be (Im not saying it shouldnt be a big issue, just the way its currently a big issue, now isnt a constructive debate, its purely dramatics). Both sides of the arguments here are just overly dramatic and an embarrassment as student leaders.

    The student’s here need to get over themselves and get their job done, because in 4 years they are gone and no one will remember them. I may be a cynic but the overly dramatic politics here is disgusting.

    • I would argue that there are a very, VERY few number of students currently holding leadership positions that are getting worked up about this. More often than not, they are simply being hurt by the actions of few. Most of the student leaders sitting in the Assemblies that have experienced these highly-charged moments are not experiencing them because they want to, but because they have been dragged into a debate started by the few. Many of them did not sign up for this. They signed up to do a job.

      These student leaders you comment on are just disproportionately vocal. They do not represent all student leaders.

      • Very true, and it is also some students that are not part of any of these assemblies that are very vocal as well. That being said there are students who are making these issues much bigger and dramatic than they should be and wasting the time of others. When it comes down to it, for someone who could care less, it just seems like they are seeking attention, which the student body is thus giving them.

        Its frustrating that so much time and emotions are wasted on this. The thing is, even though its very few students, its something that happens every year. Its just very frustrating.

    • One of the key messages in this post is that student involvement (and yes, politics) at Queen’s have literally shaped this institution. From the staggeringly high support for clubs, to student gov’t, to academic planning, we want students not to be cynical and to get involved. Getting overly involved should never be embarrassing to students, and that is what we want to address. Together, and by sharing our views as students, we can (and have for decades) create positive change at Queen’s. That is definitely something to get worked up over.

  2. You say, “We wanted to address some regrettable incidents that have taken place in the past 24 hours, the past week, and throughout the past year” without ever fully disclosing what events you are talking about. This is not accessible to your community and your use of ambiguity implies an insider readership. This just perpetuates an exclusionary environment.

    I am also not a fan of the ageist rhetoric being used here either. The conflation of youthfulness with being “programmed to make mistakes” is really problematic. People make mistakes regardless of their age. Flaws are not something you grow out of.

    • I would say that a number of students are aware of these issues, not just ‘insiders’. Also, while people may make mistakes throughout their lives, University in particular is a time of growth, of new experiences, and trial-and-error.

      • Just look at the thread in overheard, there are many people that don’t know what went on. I like to think of myself as somewhat well informed on student happenings and I had no clue what specifically happened. Then again I dont use twitter where is seems so much has gone down this year,

      • While the incident which is being referred to seems clear, it requires assumptions on the part of the reader. The last thing we need at this time is more speculation and sensationalizing. Also on a purely formalistic level such strong didactics do not hold up without clear examples.

    • Thank you for the comment! The reasoning for this is that while there have been a number of specific incidents, this sentiment is not aimed at specific individuals, or the ideas they hold. Rather, it is a comment on a trend that has been visible in many student debates this year. Focusing on a couple examples would only seek to target specific instances, when this is indeed far more prevalent than the few incidents we may be able to link to.

  3. Jebus this is well written. Thank you for saying EXACTLY what I’ve been thinking over the past two weeks.

  4. casual observer

    I dislike that a photo from the “Harlem Shake” was included, I don’t think cultural appropriation should be a symbol of what student’s coming together looks like

  5. Seems like the AMS is “out to get” some of the students that they feel go against their thinking. Makes me a little sad to see a bunch of bright 20-somethings being so blatantly power-hungry to the point of bullying.

    University politics: everything’s made up and the power doesn’t matter.

  6. I totally agree with this article. I always thought that university should be less about hating people and more about smoking blunts and having unprotected sex.

  7. 2for1BjornBorgs

    The fact that you don’t even mention these “incidents” is a clear indicator that “getting back to who we are” really just means “let’s go back to the good ol’ days where we could put on our blinders and pretend that rape and rape culture doesn’t exist.”

  8. As someone that was a formerly employed at Queens I can truthfully say that some of the students need to grow up. Stop acting like a bunch of spoiled brats. The world does not owe you anything.

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