It’s a rite of passage. Students move out of Mom and Dad’s with a carload of clothes and computer games and arrive at University, ready to revel in their newfound freedom by partying all night and consuming startling amounts of alcohol. It contributes mightily to the astounding first-year dropout rate common across all colleges and universities.
And the trend is no more evident than at Queen’s University in Kingston, which is well known for being a “party school.” But those parties turned deadly when two first year students died in alcohol-related events in a span of less than two months last year.
After the deaths, a coroner’s inquest investigated the two incidents as well as the overall atmosphere towards alcohol use at Queen’s. Yesterday, the report was released. It contained strong recommendations on what Queen’s needs to do to address the prevalent “Culture of Drinking” on campus.
The coroner’s office stated that the jurisdiction for dealing with non-academic discipline should be removed from the hands of the student government — where, in a unique arrangement, it has resided for over 100 years at Queen’s — and placed with university administration. The coroner also recommended that Queen’s accelerate a review of all its policies, expand educational initiatives and even look in to the possibility of carrying out searches of students’ rooms for alcohol.
The Principal of Queen’s University responded in a blog post, however, where he seems resistant to have the administration of the university take on non-academic discipline:
Clearly, we want to do all we can to minimize the chances of these kinds of accidents recurring. Doing so will require administration to continue working in partnership with student government leaders, in particular with respect to non-academic discipline, which has been delegated by Senate to a student peer judicial process for nearly a century, an arrangement which has by and large served Queen’s well. Our joint commitment must be to maximizing student safety and success at Queen’s. In other words: we all have a role to play in maximizing safety on campus.
Certainly, while Queen’s takes pride in their unique arrangement for dealing with non-academic discipline and particularly alcohol infringements, that arrangement seems to have been especially ineffective given the reputation of the school and the deaths of the two students. The status quo does not seem to be the best option here.
The coroner will check on what, if any, advances Queen’s has made in dealing with alcohol on campus at the end of the calendar year.
Photo credit: Dottie Mae on Flickr
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