WARNING – the note quoted in this article uses language that may disturb readers. Discretion is advised.
Queen’s leadership and the broader campus community are denouncing and investigating a poster that was hung in a common room in Chown Hall, which contained racist, homophobic, and violent language.
On Thursday, October 10, the note was discovered, removed, and reported to authorities. Written as a “poem”, it contained threats specifically directed to Indigenous students.
Its placement in Chown and its address to “Chown Four”, referring to the fourth floor of the residence, is significant, as that floor is designated as an “Indigenous & Allies community area”, and is home during the academic year to many Indigenous students.
“Lock your doors and hide your keys / We’ll scalp you all / We’ll make you bleed”, are some of the violent and blatantly racist lines in the poem. Although it was posted anonymously, there are clues in the content itself to the identity of the writer(s) and the circumstances that led to the note’s creation. “We took your flags and you wailed and cried / Told our dons now you’ll pay the price” may indicate that this note is not the first point of contact between the note-writers and the students to whom the note is directed.
Their reference to at least one previous instance of theft and bullying, and justifying their escalation of threat as retaliation for “telling their dons” (dons are the upper-year supervisors for each university residence’s floor), appear to show a pattern of behaviour and a history of being known to residence authorities.
All residences require keys to get past the main entrance and into the living spaces and common rooms, and building keys to one residence do not provide entry to any other residences.
Kingston Police and Queen’s University are investigating this incident, and Principal Patrick Deane has spoken out against the threatening note. “Queen’s has worked hard – and continues to work hard,” he wrote in a public statement, “to support and implement a wide array of initiatives aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion and combatting racist hatred. Clearly there is more work to be done.”
He adds, “Our students were notified and anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact Campus Security and Emergency Services (613-533-6111) or Kingston Police (613-549-4660). I would remind everyone that if you feel affected by this incident and require support, please to not hesitate to reach out to the support services available on campus, or the multi-faith chaplain.”