Queen’s, community partners working together to keep St. Patrick’s Day safe, respectful, and inclusive
Queen’s University, in collaboration with its community partners on and off campus, is taking action to encourage students to focus on well-being, respect, and responsibility, while also preparing to enforce bylaws and the university’s Student Code of Conduct to ensure students don’t put themselves or others at risk over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
St. Patrick’s Day is a city-wide celebration, but past events have included large gatherings in the University District. Over the past few months, Queen’s has met regularly with community partners, including Kingston Police, the City of Kingston, KFL&A Public Health, emergency medical services (EMS), and students to discuss and collaborate on strategies to address issues related to unsanctioned street parties. A popular Canadian Instagram site that highlights university parties across Canada is encouraging St. Patrick’s Day activities at Queen’s, as well as other universities, adding to university and partner concerns and preparations.
“We know most students behave responsibly and are mindful of others, but there are always some individuals who do not seem to get the message. Actions such as climbing on roofs, breaking glass, or disrespecting area residents are unacceptable,” says Teri Shearer, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Additionally, large groups of people gathering in the University District have the potential to interfere with traffic and the provision of emergency services and can unintentionally put people in harm’s way. These are all things Queen’s and our partners are determined to address.”
The university’s approach includes education, engagement, and enforcement. Along with its partners, Queen’s is providing students with information on safer alcohol consumption, as well as other options, such as substance-free programming for students who choose not to drink.
To engage students, the university has launched a widespread social media campaign that it hopes will encourage students to be mindful and respectful of the community. Social media ads focused on “building community together” will run through to the end of the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. These will include topics such as thinking of others, not climbing on roofs, staying hydrated, and keeping roadways clear. Additional messages focused on sexual violence prevention will run a few days prior to St. Patrick’s Day and extend a few days beyond the weekend.
Several partner organizations, including the Alma Mater Society, KFL&A Public Health, the City of Kingston, and Kingston Police are also running social media campaigns with similar safety and behaviour messages, engaging videos, as well as information on enforcement.
University and city bylaw staff have been delivering information door-to-door in the University District in the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. This was in addition to a wider door-knocking campaign announced by Kingston Police, which had liaison teams reach out to University District residents, as well as high schools and other post-secondary students across the city.
A website containing resources to help students be responsible neighbours and community members, as well as links to university services for various supports, is being promoted through handouts and social media messages.
The university will enforce a no-guest policy in its residences from Thursday, March 16 at 8 p.m. to Monday, March 20 at 8 a.m. It has also introduced enhanced security on campus and will have first aid and medical staff available to help divert smaller injuries from local emergency rooms.
Additional food and water is being provided and encouraged to mitigate the impacts of over-consumption, and AMS Walkhome will have volunteers on hand from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. for anyone needing a safe walk back to their residence.
The Campus Observation Room (COR) located in Chez Lenny (across from Leonard Dining Hall) will operate on St. Patrick’s Day from 9 a.m. through to 7 a.m. Saturday, March 18, and again from 9 p.m. Saturday through to 7 a.m. on Sunday, March 19. COR is a voluntary, confidential, non-judgmental place where students who have had too much to drink can sleep it off in a supervised and safe environment.
Should education and engagement fail to influence behaviours, partners will use enforcement. Police and the City have issued notices that anyone charged for designated provincial offences under the University District Safety Initiative (UDSI) or the Nuisance Party Bylaw will be subject to penalties, including Administrative Monetary Penalties. The UDSI is applicable city-wide and is in effect March 9-19, 2023. The university is also clear that, in addition to municipal or provincial offenses, cases involving Queen’s students will be referred into the Non-Academic Misconduct system for consideration under the Student Code of Conduct.