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Letters to the editor: August 2020

Letters to the editor: August 2020

On coronavirus mortality rates

I very much enjoyed reading Ali Velshi’s “The pursuit of truth in a post-fact world” in Issue 2. From an “insider” dealing daily with fake news, I learned much and took home an approach to assess media, particularly on controversial issues. However, in his essay I found one specific statement subject to misinterpretation, viz. that “the coronavirus” (COVID-19) has a higher mortality rate than SARS. Mortality rate implies the death rate in a specific population.

The statement “It has already infected many more people than SARS did and it’s got a higher mortality rate” implies that in those infected, more will die from COVID-19, whereas the opposite is true. It is two to three per cent for COVID- 19 and 10 per cent for SARS. Certainly the mortality rate for the general population is much higher for COVID-19, due to the much higher infectivity rate of COVID-19, which also contributed significantly to poor initial containment of the virus infection.

I might also point out that both infections are caused by a coronavirus, albeit in today’s parlance “the coronavirus” is COVID-19.

John Goodall, Meds'70

Thank you to Dr. Goodall for this clarification.

On misinformation and bias in the news

I read with interest the article by Ali Velshi concerning journalism and the pursuit of truth while making efforts to identify and report on misinformation and disinformation. To be clear I am a registered independent voter in the United States.

Mr. Velshi may do well to look at the particular biases of his own network as a starting point if he wishes to extend his search for, and correction of, misinformation and disinformation.

Is it a case of misinformation or disinformation to spend literally hundreds of hours of air time discussing the Russian collusion story through its process while giving virtually no air time (or in the alternative, derisive reporting) to the currently unfolding story of FISA abuses perpetrated by the previous government? This disparity smacks of obfuscation. Similarly, one might consider the cumulative hours of coverage dedicated to the alleged sexual assault perpetrated by now-Justice Kavanaugh (unsubstantiated by any other person indicated to have been present at the time of the alleged abuse) against the passive review, where it is mentioned at all by his network, given to allegations of sexual assault against Joseph Biden (other than continued efforts at character assassination of the accuser)? In the latter case, at least nine people have come forward to provide contemporaneous confirmation of alleged impropriety on the part of Mr. Biden. Yet, this story is deemed to be not worthy of reporting.

I do appreciate Ali Velshi’s efforts to outline the differences between misinformation and disinformation; it would seem to me that Mr. Velshi needs to review how his own network handles news reporting. Any network that at least attempted to provide unbiased reporting would be a welcome change in the United States.

Geoffrey Clarke, MSc’86 (Geology)

Camp Outlook memories

Since the publication of your article on the 50th anniversary of Camp Outlook, we’ve had an outpouring of support from Queen’s alumni, for which we are profoundly grateful.

We’d like to briefly update readers on what we’ve been up to since the article was published.

We’ve had to cancel our 2020 summer canoe tripping season because of COVID-19, but we’re looking forward to resuming wilderness trips this fall at Queen’s with Winter Outlook. We rescheduled our 50th reunion to Aug. 28–29, 2021 in Kingston.

I also wanted to share some of the messages we’ve received, which have touched us more than we can express.

“I am forever grateful for the experience of Camp Outlook, attending quite a few trips from about 1992 until 1995. I only wish I had gone on more. I feel it changed the direction of my life,” wrote one former volunteer.

A Queen’s MBA'73 graduate donated the price of a new Grumman canoe in honor of his black Labrador, Buck, who had recently passed away. “I think Buck would have been a wonderful addition to your staff,” he wrote to us. “He loved the outdoors, especially anything to do with water. More importantly, he was an amazing ‘therapist.’ He had an infallible sense of people and provided emotional support, mostly by just being there when needed.”

One of the donations we received was in memory of the late Dr. Hui Lee, MD'89, a beloved member of the medical community in Sault Ste. Marie.

“I graduated from Queen’s Medicine in 1971 and love to canoe and, more recently, to kayak. One of my children suffered from severe mental illness and I would have loved him to have the experience,” wrote another doctor.

Some of our correspondents knew Ron Kimberley and Padre Laverty personally.

“Love that you’re treating the kids as people and not statistics!” was a comment we loved to hear, as it reflects Ron Kimberley’s philosophy of engaging with youth through the wilderness.

Greg Gransden, on behalf of the Camp Outlook Board of Directors

I very much enjoyed the article “Out of Kingston and into the woods." Please pass along my compliments to author Sara Beck.

I was, however, struck by the all-too-brief bio of Ron Kimberley. Is there any more information on where he ended up, and where his career took him?

John McDowell, Artsci’82

We didn’t have a lot of information on Camp Outlook founder Ron Kimberley, as he was a very private person. However, with the help of Bob Card, Meds’64, MSc’67, whose wife, Helen, BNSc’62, was a cousin of Ron’s, we connected with Ron’s  sister, Kathy Johns. Kathy gave us this information:

Ron graduated from Queen’s medical school in 1973 with the distinctions of receiving both the Tricolour award and the Aesculapian award that year.

He then began specializing in psychiatry at Queen’s. As well, he went on to study criminology at Cambridge, then was a Commonwealth Scholar studying jurisprudence at Oxford, and then law at University of Western Ontario. He completed his residency in psychiatry at Queen’s in 1980. He was admitted to the Bar at Osgoode Hall, Toronto in 1982 and was a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. His goal was to combine all of this knowledge as a forensic psychiatrist.

Ron also loved athletics, competing in track and field at Queen’s, ice hockey and rowing at Cambridge, and rowing at Oxford. He spent his career in Kingston as a forensic psychiatrist with a particular interest in young offenders.

He always loved the outdoors, hiking, and canoeing. Ron spent as much of his free time as possible at his cottage north of Kingston.

The Artsci 1993 Bursary Fund

In 1997, to mark the fifth anniversary of our graduation, my class created an endowed bursary fund to be awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need to students who self-identify as Indigenous,Métis, Inuit, or as members of the African and Caribbean Student Association in any year in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Since its inception, the Artsci 1993 Bursary Fund has provided a total of $34,158 in financial support to 22 incredible scholars. The letters we have received for our recipients have spoken to the impact, validation, and the powerful ripple effect made by supporting Indigenous,Métis, and BIPOC students. As our fund’s lead contact and our class giving chair, I am very proud of the accomplishments of our recipients. All who have attended Queen’s were the direct beneficiaries of philanthropic investments, large and small, from those who came before us. Today, tuition and fees for a domestic Artsci student at Queen’s is $6,182 for one year. The “purchasing power” of our fund is diminishing over time. I encourage my classmates and other Queen’s University alumni to consider supporting our fund to grow its capacity to make an even greater impact for our deserving future alumni for years to come.

Stacy Kelly, Artsci’93

Rock around the clock

In the last issue, we ran this flashback photo of a 1971 Camp Outlook fundraising dance and asked readers if they could identify any of the dancers.

I was flipping through the Keeping in Touch section of my Review. I always start at the back and work my way forward. I always need to check: am I in the death section this month?

On page 32, there is a “Do you know any of these people?” picture. In the middle, peering out of the darkness of a dance floor is…No…Could that be –? No way. Then I read the caption: Arts'73 – my year!

Short story shorter, that’s definitely me in the middle. I don’t remember any of the other dancers. I hope they come forward.

That was a long time ago! Heck, I was still a teenager. Some would say that I still am, at heart.


Douglas Mann, Arts’73

The dancer in the middle and in the background is Doug Mann, Arts’73. We lived in the same Science ‘44 Co-op on William at Aberdeen. He was a fun guy!

Carol Rogers, Arts’73

I have great memories of going to that 8 pm to 8 am marathon dance at Grant Hall. It was loads of fun with two live bands, a “fresh” one coming in at 2 am for the second shift. You hadbathroom breaks and that was about it! Back to the dance floor.

Amy Falkner, Arts’74

David Service, Arts’73, identified the woman in the photo as Marie Robb, and we confirmed this with Marie (Robb) Muir, Arts’73. Thanks also  to Colleen McGuire, Artsci’81, who identified the man dancing with Marie as Bob Douglas, who wasn’t a student at Queen’s.

Learning from a distance

When I studied for a master’s degree in psychology in the mid-1960s, I was assigned to be a teaching assistant for a psychology professor whotaught a correspondence course. I do not recall her name at the moment. It was my understanding at the time that Queen’s had been a pioneer in distance learning. Now that all schools and colleges are closed, and all instruction is being provided from a distance, I am wondering about the history of Queen’s with regard to this subject.

My experience was very interesting as the students enrolled in the correspondence course were in remote places, in jail, in other countries, and other unusual circumstances.If I recall correctly, they were able to obtain a Queen’s degree without ever being on campus. Standards were high and the work expected of them was demanding.

Beverley (Roberts) Gounard-Spry, MA’68 (Psychology)

The Queen’s Faculty of Arts and Science has done some research on distance education at Queen’s, using, in part, old issues of the Queen’s Alumni Review.

In 1878, Queen’s University began offering extension courses to teachers who sought university training. These extramural extension courses were offered by the Faculty of Arts.

In 1889, the University Senate passed a new regulation allowing home study by any student who was deterred from attending classes by distance or other obstacles. With the introduction of this regulation, Queen’s earned the distinction of being the first North American university to offer “distance education.”

Queen’s efforts to “bring university to the people” were criticized at the time by other institutions who held to the academic functions of the university, or who feared that institutions might lose their “seclusion and dignity.” By the 1930s, however, nearly all those who originally criticized Queen’s University’s actions had followed suit.

Read more about the history of remote learning at Queen’s on the Arts and Science website.

We’d love to hear from other readers about their experience with continuing and distance education at Queen’s. Email us: review@queensu.ca

Winter sculptures and the Cold War

[photo of student next to 26 July flag in Havana, 1958]
Ian Moricz de Tesco in Havana, 1958.   Photo by John Olson

A number of the Snowball sculptures featured in the last two issues of the magazine were political caricatures of Fidel Castro, Nikita Khrushchev, and the like. This brought back memories for John Olson, Arts’61, who writes,

“The two Castro sculptures reminded me of when I was at Queen’s and in Havana for Christmas 1958 when Castro’s forces entered the city. Students were evacuated by a U.S. government airlift. A picture of another Queen’s student [Ian Moricz de Tesco, Sc’62] I took in front of the Hotel Nacional in front of an impromptu 26 July flag made the front page of the Queen’s Journal after we got back. Innocent times. Soon the Soviet connection emerged, as we see in the later Snowball sculptures, and the rest is history."

[cover image of the Queen's Alumni Review issue 3, 2020, featuring Anita Jack-Davies]