Counting our students

In April, I blogged about the importance of counting Queen’s students in Kingston’s electoral boundaries. That blog was in response to an ongoing debate about postsecondary students, and whether they are considered Kingston residents.

Since then, the Alma Mater Society, a Queen’s law student and the Sydenham District Association challenged Kingston City Council’s decision to modify electoral boundaries in a way that does not represent the student population.

This process culminated in an Ontario Municipal Board appeal, and I have learned that the OMB ruled on the side of our students and their co-appellants. This decision is undoubtedly the result of much effort on the part of our students, as well as others.

As I said in the aforementioned blog post, we consider Queen’s students to be members not only of the Queen’s community but also of the Kingston community. We actively encourage them to get involved in the city in which they live, Continue Reading »

Homecoming 2013: Email to the Queen’s community

The following is an email I sent to Queen’s staff, faculty and students on October 3:

Dear Queen’s community,

As you know, this weekend will mark the first Queen’s Homecoming in five years. As I said last year when I announced Homecoming’s reinstatement, the decision to bring the event back wasn’t one that was made lightly. We all remember why it was cancelled, and no one wants to see those incidents repeated.

We all have a role to play in ensuring this year’s Homecoming is a safe and successful event that is respectful of Queen’s, our alumni, and the Kingston community. Our consultation with a variety of stakeholders – Kingston police, city officials, Kingston Fire & Rescue, students and alumni – has been with this common goal in mind.

While I have been encouraged by the reduction in street parties and other unsafe activities in recent years, Continue Reading »

First year students gather outside of residence on the September 1st move-in day.

Another Successful Move-in Day Behind Us

Yesterday, Sept 1, was move-in day, which this year occurred about as early as it possibly can owing to the early date for Labour Day (today). The weather cooperated; despite the previous day (and today) being very damp and overcast, we had brilliant sunshine and clear skies until late in the evening when the thunder and lightning started (perhaps signifying the noise and high energy now unleashed on campus with the return of the undergraduate population and the arrival of new students).

My wife and I always do more or less the same thing on Move-in day. For the fifth straight year, we spent several hours walking up and down residence hallways, randomly stopping in rooms to say hello to new students and their families as they move in, answer any questions they may have, and find out a bit about where they are from, and what they are taking. Continue Reading »

in Haifa overlooking the Bahai Gardens

Israel Delegation Days 4 to 7: A Different Approach to Research?

I’ve been back for a couple of days from my expedition, with executive heads of five other Canadian universities, to Israel and the West Bank. The extremely packed schedule of meetings allowed very little time for blogging while on the trip so I am writing this continuation of my previous post after having been back for a couple of days.

After 3 days visiting Jerusalem and the West Bank (see previous post re Birzeit University) the group relocated to Haifa overnight and then took a visit to the Technion, which might best be described as Israel’s counterpart to MIT or CalTech, a university focused entirely on science, engineering and medicine. It’s set up on a mountain and we had a series of presentations by the president and members of his team. Our last visit there was with a faculty member in Engineering who by coincidence is originally from Kingston (he was an LCVI grad) and who maintains a research relationship with our own Prof Ian Moore of Civil Engineering. Continue Reading »

In the garden at Yad Vashem

Visit to Israel and the West Bank 2013: Days 1-3

As I write this blog it is 830 at night in Jerusalem. The sun will be going down shortly and bring an end to the Sabbath (Shabbat). Israel’s work week begins on Sunday (which is like our Monday), and runs till Thursday. Friday is like our Saturday, and as of sundown much of the city shuts down as families gather for Shabbat celebrations.

Israel is, however, a complex country and there are plenty of non-religious people, significant Christian and especially Muslim populations, and businesses including hotels and restaurants that remain open even on Shabbat. One feature of hotels is the Shabbat elevator which runs between floors from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday in such a way that the observant do not have to push buttons, which is prohibited for them. (I am reminded of my late grandfather, an orthodox Jew who spent his life in London, England, and on Shabbat would neither use the ‘lift’ Continue Reading »