It has come to my attention that plans are underway to organize a party known as “Beerfest” at an off-campus house. The history of this “annual” event is not a proud one; already numerous students who feel upset, scared and unsafe have contacted me to express their concerns.
Last year, participants wore costumes that consisted of unacceptable cultural appropriations, and through their actions alienated groups on campus or otherwise caused members of our community to feel belittled or uncomfortable.
It is clear from the language used by the organizers that they have failed to appreciate the lasting harm and the negative impacts this specific event had on others – particularly on racialized members of our community. The evident lack of empathy and judgement of the organizers (and any participants) is alarming and disappointing.
Clearly, some students fail to appreciate that our society has changed and progressed; people expect better of students, and rightly are less tolerant of insulting and hurtful behaviours towards others. We have seen and can expect more outrage from the community when students engage in unacceptable behaviours.
Queen’s strives to be a diverse and inclusive community. Any event that degrades, mocks or marginalizes a group or groups of people flies in the face of our shared values and is completely unacceptable. I am grateful that so many students, staff and faculty on campus share this belief and have had the courage to raise their concerns.
To any students who may be feeling negatively affected or in need of help, the university stands with you. I encourage you to speak to someone if you feel you need support. To those who have not yet learned to respect others, I hope you know we are paying close attention.