On Sept. 10, the following email was sent to all students in response to reports of unsanctioned activity in the near-campus neighbourhood:
Normally at this time of year I like to send a message of greetings to new students and welcome back to returning ones. I am sorry to say that this is not that message. Since Sunday evening, we have continued to receive reports of disturbing and unacceptable behaviour in the near-campus neighbourhood. These include not only the large street party that resulted in the closure of University Avenue on Sunday evening, but also instances of individuals being surrounded and impeded while driving in the area around campus and having their property damaged.
Let me be clear and unambiguous: there is no tolerance for this kind of dangerous behaviour at Queen’s or in Kingston. It is also an embarrassment to both our student body, the university as a whole, and the city of Kingston. Individuals who are identified as participating in these incidents will be referred to the appropriate bodies, whether it be the Kingston Police or the non-academic discipline system.
There have also been reports of hundreds of students gathering at the Kingston waterfront, consuming alcohol and jumping into Lake Ontario; this is incredibly dangerous behaviour that could result in serious injury or the loss of a life. No one wants to see the tragic alcohol-related events of 2010 repeated.
Many students have spent many years working to overcome the reputational damage that was done as a result of similar incidents, the worst of which occurred in 2005 during Homecoming weekend. Early in my first term as principal, I had to extend the cancellation of Homecoming because the behaviour had not sufficiently improved. While things have improved in recent years (prior to this week), a regression will only serve as impetus to cancel this beloved tradition once again. I ask that you do not put me in that position; it will only hurt you, your fellow students, and our alumni.
We should all be able to take pride in this university; that cannot happen when individuals are behaving in a way that disrespects Queen’s, our neighbours, and the Kingston community. I commend and thank those of you who have distanced yourself from these gatherings and those who have taken on leadership roles to improve the situation. But in order for this to be truly effective, we need the entire student body to work together; we need upper year students to set a positive example for younger students; and, first and foremost, we need this behaviour to stop immediately.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor