175th anniversary: Q to remember

This article originally appeared in the Queen’s Gazette Online on Sept. 6, 2016.

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

They came, they stood, they conquered.

Under clear skies and dazzling sunshine, 3,373 people turned out to Nixon Field on Sept. 6 to help Queen’s University set the Guinness World Record for largest human letter.

“I might have a sunburn, but it was worth it,” said Jasper Haighton, Sc’20, who attended the event with other first-year students living on her residence floor. “It was kind of cool to come together as a community and do something that will be remembered in history.”

Queen’s beat the previous record of 2,166 set earlier this year by Dell Technologies in Round Rock, Texas. All of the participants wore gold T-shirts provided by the organizers. The Q had a circumference of approximately 140 metres, with organizers mapping out the letter in advance using more than 300 metres of rope.

“I’m thrilled we set the record, which was a fun and exciting way to highlight our 175th anniversary celebrations,” said Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf, who accepted the plaque from the Guinness adjudicator immediately following the attempt. “I would like to thank the thousands of participants and the volunteers, more than 70 in total, who made this accomplishment possible.”

Manal Shalabi, a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry, was one of the volunteers for the event. She answered questions and helped get participants into position before the record attempt. Ms. Shalabi was joined by her friend Mariam El Mezouar, a PhD candidate in the School of Computing.

“When are you going to have the chance to do this again? I couldn’t miss this opportunity,” Ms. El Mezouar said. “It’s so cool to be part of the Guinness record.”

The record attempt is a highlight of the university’s 175th anniversary celebrations. Hundreds of incoming students helped fill up a large portion of the Q along with other students, faculty, staff, and local community members.

“This event is absolutely fantastic,” says Rector Cam Yung, Artsci’16. “It showcases the fact that the student experience is a key part of life at Queen’s. It’s exceptional to see us come together as a group to celebrate Queen’s.”

Even international students joined in the festivities. Gianluca Iezzi, Roberta Luongo, Flaminia Albanese, and Luca Luciani, exchange students from Luiss University in Rome, heard about the record attempt the day before.

“We knew we wanted to be part of it,” Ms. Albanese said. “It was the best welcome to Queen’s.”