As you are no doubt aware, over the past several weeks, there has been an escalation in disturbing, destructive and completely unacceptable behaviours in several of our residence buildings.
These behaviours include intentional damage to ceiling tiles; damaging and stealing exit signs; malicious fire alarm pulls, flooding, and broken windows and doors. These disrespectful and dangerous actions must stop.
We have heard from many students, and some of your parents, who are understandably frustrated and angry. I - and the entire residence staff team - share those feelings.
We expect every student who joins the Queen’s community to model the qualities of good citizenship, and to be respectful of other students, university staff, and the Kingston community. I know you heard these messages through your summer and fall orientation, and in your first weeks and months of school. I know these messages are reinforced by your faculty deans. These recent behaviours do not reflect the values of Queen’s, and our expectations of Queen’s students.
In addition to the safety risks, these behaviours have caused harm to your peers, who have had their property damaged, as well as their wellbeing and living environment disrupted with fire alarms being triggered at all hours of the night, requiring building evacuations. These behaviours are also incredibly disrespectful to our facilities, maintenance and trades staff, who are pulled from all of their regular tasks - again at all hours of the night and early morning - to prioritize repairs to the life safety equipment and to clean up. Our staff work very hard to maintain safe and positive living spaces for you, and it is incredibly disappointing that their important daily contributions to your residence community are being so disrespected.
We want you to have fun at university. We know this will include some level of disruption in the residence community, but the extent of destruction, and the lack of care for your residence community, our staff and first responders this year, is beyond anything we have seen before.
We are taking several steps to deter these behaviours, and we need everyone to contribute to creating a safer and more inclusive living environment. I want to highlight some of the particular issues, and the actions we are taking.
Malicious Fire Alarms
There have been continued malicious fire alarm pulls in many buildings, forcing all building residents outside at various hours of the night. As you are aware, Kingston Fire and Rescue responds to every alarm. When they have to respond to a malicious pull, this can delay their response to an actual emergency and fire elsewhere in our community. This senseless behaviour could ultimately cost someone their life. If you are found to have tampered with residence life safety equipment, including maliciously pulling a fire alarm, there will be serious consequences, and you may be required to leave residence.
Damage to Critical Life Safety Systems
We are very concerned about the intentional damage to ceiling tiles, stolen or damaged emergency exit signs, and broken windows. Ceiling tiles are designed to delay the spread of fire, and the signs can save lives if smoke is too dense to see the exit doors. Damaging these fixtures puts the safety of everyone in the building at risk. Again, if you are found to have tampered with residence life safety equipment, there will be serious consequences that may include requiring you to leave residence.
Visitors on Residence Floors
We have heard that some damages and malicious fire alarms are being caused by students from other buildings and their guests. As a residence community member, you have the responsibility to respect all residence building communities. Other than to enter Victoria Hall or Smith House to go to Lazy or LoCo, students from other buildings are expected to be on floors only when invited by a building resident. Every resident is accountable for the behaviour of their guests.
Be part of the solution
- If you witness destructive or problematic behaviour, report it as it is happening, either to your Front Desk or to Campus Security (613 533-6111).
- You can also be an active bystander by interrupting the behaviour, if you feel comfortable doing so.
- If you know who has been involved in these behaviours, please share what you know through a new reporting system. You can stay anonymous.
- You can also speak to your Don.
We are considering additional steps, including community billing, which means splitting the significant costs of damages in each building among every student living in that particular building.
We urge you not to let the egregious actions of a few students continue to negatively impact everyone.
We want each of you to have a safe and positive experience where you can make meaningful connections and be academically successful. If you have thoughts or ideas on how we can support and enact meaningful change, please reach out to your Residence Life Coordinator.
As we approach the end of term and the start of the exam period, it is especially important that we are supportive, respectful, and kind to each other. We need to work together to stop this behaviour and to create a positive living and learning community for all.
Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs