Today I responded in a press conference, and in several subsequent media interviews, to the coroner’s recommendations with respect to the deaths of Cameron Bruce and Habib Khan. As with the other deaths that occurred this past year, these were terrible tragedies that have deeply affected the Queen’s community. This blog entry however will focus exclusively on the recommendations flowing out of the coroner’s report on Cameron’s and Habib’s deaths.
We appreciate the work the Coroner has done in reviewing these tragic deaths. We have complied fully with his office since the fall and we commit to moving forward immediately in response his recommendations. Indeed, we have been active for some months already in this regard, including the re-empanelment of an alcohol working group which works closely with a working group on student safety. We are reviewing our policies around alcohol consumption and looking for ways in which we can strengthen them.
Clearly, we want to do all we can to minimize the chances of these kinds of accidents recurring. Doing so will require administration to continue working in partnership with student government leaders, in particular with respect to non-academic discipline, which has been delegated by Senate to a student peer judicial process for nearly a century, an arrangement which has by and large served Queen’s well. Our joint commitment must be to maximizing student safety and success at Queen’s. In other words: we all have a role to play in maximizing safety on campus.
Like other universities across North America, we are wrestling with the societal issue of alcohol consumption and excessive drinking in the student-aged population. Queen’s, like other universities, encourages safe and responsible decision-making and good citizenship, and discourages under-age drinking. We expect students to adhere to our Code of Conduct and community standards in residence.
I want to recognize the leadership of Associate Vice-Principal and Dean of Student Affairs John Pierce and the staff, students, alumni and faculty members he has been working with over the last several months to review and enhance student health and wellness.
John, and his successor, Ann Tierney, will continue to drive change and progress on campus as we respond to the Coroner’s recommendations.