Queen’s responds: School is pushing public health guidance to students

Kingstonist file photo

Queen’s University has released a statement saying their administration was deeply concerned by the student behaviour reported over the weekend.

“Over the past few months, Queen’s has worked closely with our partner agencies in the community including the City of Kingston, Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, Kingston Police Service and others, to ensure the planned, limited return of students to campus mitigates the risks associated with the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible,” the statement said. “We were deeply concerned by the student behaviours witnessed by Professor Masuda as relayed in his recent letter.”

Queen’s University Professor Jeff Masuda issued an open letter to the Provost and Dean Ann Tierney on Saturday, Sep. 5, 2020 describing his dismay at student parties taking place in his neighbourhood. Queen’s shared their response with the Kingstonist on Wednesday, Sep. 9.

“Throughout all of our planning and decision-making, the safety of Queen’s students, staff, and faculty, as well as the Kingston community, has been our top priority,” it said. “The university has made – and continues to make – efforts to reach all students who have chosen to live in Kingston to reinforce the importance of following the local public health precautionary measures and guidelines.”

Queen’s said that university staff have messaged students directly, and through a targeted social media campaign, to provide guidance. They’re also reportedly reminding students of their responsibilities and obligations as members of the Kingston and Queen’s community.

“The City of Kingston, KFL&A Public Health, and the Alma Mater Society (AMS) are also running complementary communication initiatives aimed at reaching students through various social media channels. Our COVID-19 Information website has links to many of the communications to students and near-campus neighbours as well as other resources and information relating to COVID-19,” read the statement.

Young people gathered for a party in Kingston’s University district on Saturday, Sep. 5, 2020. Photo by Logan Cadue

“Off-campus, enforcement of COVID-19 related offenses is the jurisdiction of the Kingston Police and/or Bylaw services. Enforceable and unenforceable COVID-19 related complaints are listed on the KFL&A Public Health website. The university will continue to be guided by public health best practices, and work closely with KFL&A Public Health, the city and other community partners, to implement measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Queen’s said.

On Tuesday, Sep. 8, Kingston Police confirmed that they had issued four tickets for noise complaints and bylaw offences over the Labour Day weekend, specifically in the downtown University district.

Queen’s also noted that students on campus are expected to adhere to the Student Code of Conduct, follow direction of Campus Security and Emergency Services personnel. Those living in residence are also expected to abide by the university’s Residence Community Standards, he said, each of which includes “a possible range of sanctions for noncompliance.”

The statement highlighted steps taken by the City to address risky pandemic behaviour in Kingston , including the introduction of Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMP) for noise control bylaw and nuisance party bylaw infractions, and enforcing the University District Safety Initiative.

“Queen’s takes the safety of our community very seriously,” Queen’s said. “We want to assure the community that we will continue to impress upon our students the importance of adhering to public health guidelines during these challenging times.”

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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