The following is a statement from Queen’s Principal Patrick Deane, cautioning students against large unsanctioned gatherings reportedly planned for this coming weekend:
Last weekend, Queen’s and Kingston experienced large unsanctioned gatherings as well as tangential acts of violence, vandalism and theft that put members of the community at risk. Most regrettably, among the many injuries reported, two people who had been attending the street gatherings in the University District violently lost their lives elsewhere in the city later in the day. The fact that they were not students does not lessen the relevance of that tragedy to all of you.
We are aware of additional large gatherings being planned for this weekend. For your own personal safety and that of others, I urge you to re-think your participation in these activities – especially if drugs or alcohol are involved, as there is a risk of being insufficiently aware of your surroundings and of potential danger posed by others.
Keeping our community and our students safe is a top priority for the university, but we cannot do it alone. We continue to work with all of our community partners to communicate the potential for harm, and also to underline the fact that large unsanctioned gatherings provide openings for opportunistic criminals to commit crimes and acts of violence that could put you, or someone you care about, at risk.
We all have a role to play in keeping our community safe. I ask you to be aware of your surroundings, to look after one another, and to avoid these dangerous gatherings wherever possible. We understand many students are attracted to large crowds, and that some felt the police presence last weekend was oppressive. Legal gathering limits are however still in force and you should expect there will be consequences for ignoring them. Everyone must adhere to the law.
The police will have an increased presence again this weekend as they are expecting large crowds and an influx of visitors. Whatever your personal opinion may be on policing, law enforcement officials have a responsibility to keep the community safe, something which is increasingly challenging to do when crowds grow. Incidents within suchgroups can quickly escalate without a significant police presence to contain them.
Kingston Police and City Bylaw Enforcement issued a news release on Tuesday, October 19, outlining the charges laid over the weekend. While work has not been completed to ascertain positively how many of the charges laid involved Queen’s students, initial reports suggest that your peers accounted for roughly a third.
These large gatherings are not as benign as you might want to believe. There are in them other dangers to you that far exceed those related to the pandemic. I, therefore, urge you in the strongest terms to stay safe, look after your friends and your community, and rethink your participation in these groups. There are many other ways to socialize and still be safe.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor