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New rector committed to strengthening ties with community

As rector, Owen Crawford-Lem represents all undergraduate and graduate students during a two-year term.

Rector Owen Crawford-Lem speaks from the podium during the convocation ceremony on Friday, May 27.
Owen Crawford-Lem, the 38th rector of Queen's University, speaks from the podium during the convocation ceremony on Friday, May 27. (Queen's University)

As the 38th rector in Queen’s history, Owen Crawford-Lem is prepared to advocate on behalf of students and continue to strengthen the relationship between the university and the Kingston community. 

Crawford-Lem grew up in Toronto and has just completed his third year of an undergraduate medial degree in political science and sociology, while also finishing a certificate in business.

Crawford-Lem competed against five other candidates this spring and will now serve as the representative of all Queen’s University undergraduate and graduate students to the institution in matters pertaining to education during a two-year term. In addition, the rector serves on governing bodies, including the board of trustees, senate, and various other committees. The rector also participates in many ceremonial functions, including convocations and the conferring of awards.

Having been involved in the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society’s (ASUS) marketing office during his first year, Crawford-Lem is familiar with the responsibilities of balancing academic and extracurricular activities, as well as the leadership required to engage and promote dialogue with students.

The Gazette recently sat down with Crawford-Lem to discuss his past experiences and future plans as the rector.

Why did you decide to run for the position of rector?  

I was looking to get more involved in Queen’s and different opportunities had come up here and there, and then I heard about the rector role. It had been vacant for a year or so, and I had read an article written by the AMS suggesting that the rector is one of the most underused assets at Queen’s. So, I started setting up meetings and talking to student leaders around campus as well as administrators and the senior leadership team, and I was excited as it sounded like the office had room to grow and opportunity to re-evaluate its mandate in serving students.

What do you hope to achieve during your time as rector?

I’ve noticed a communication disconnect between students and the administration of the university, as well as many issues that are external to the university and extend into the community.

I've been lucky enough to have had a really great experience here and I want to make sure that everyone's able to have a great experience and that starts with student advocacy. It means making sure that student concerns are heard, whether big or small, and making a campus that is as inclusive as possible and one that everyone can be welcomed home to.

Housing for instance is a reoccurring theme, which I feel would benefit from more student voices.

Additionally, sexual violence prevention and response was a significant part of my platform and continues to be a topic which is extremely important, particularly the growing need to involve more men on campus. I’d like to be someone who students can come and talk to and to connect people with the resources that they need.

What has been the most rewarding part about being rector so far?

Meeting new people. I've been afforded a unique opportunity to really learn about the school in the deepest way possible. That means meeting with student governments like the AMS and the SGPS, and senior leadership who are laying out an incredible framework for the university, and it's something that I think all of us can find a little bit of buy-in. I think it’s great meeting with and speaking to students who come by here, they pop in, they say hi. It's been really fun so far and it's a great learning experience and I hope it continues for the next two years.

Learn more about the office of the rector.