This week Queen’s Principal Daniel Woolf and I announced a new approach to address large, unsanctioned street parties in the University District during move-in week, Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day. These events put a big strain on the City’s emergency services and health care facilities, and they also put community and student safety at risk. There have been several instances during these parties where people could have been seriously injured or even killed, and that’s why the City of Kingston, Queen’s University and Kingston Police are moving forward with a new initiative to address these safety concerns.
The University District Safety Initiative is a pilot program targeting unsafe and disruptive behaviour. People who are charged in the University District for certain offences during move-in week, Homecoming weekend and St. Patrick’s Day and any offence under the Nuisance Party Bylaw will be issued a summons to appear in court. Individuals charged will be required to appear before a Justice of the Peace in Kingston, regardless of where they live, and will not have the option to pay their tickets online or by phone. The goal is to have individuals take responsibility for their actions in person.
In addition to the court process, cases involving Queen’s students who receive tickets will be assessed as part of the university’s student conduct system, which is context and case-specific. Consequences are based on the nature of the harm done and its impact, and may include loss of privileges, community projects, conversations with community members, formal warnings, restitution and/or peer education initiatives.
To be clear, this initiative is not about targeting students, it’s about addressing high risk behaviour and conduct. We continue to welcome and embrace post-secondary students as our own, and we look forward to the energy and vitality they will bring to our community once again this fall. From the city’s perspective, this new approach will apply equally to residents and non-residents, students and non-students. Everyone in our community should have the same rights and be held to the same standards.
As we move ahead, I look forward to working in partnership with Queen’s administration, the AMS student leadership, Kingston Police and members of the community, to build a community that is welcoming, but also safe and respectful for both students and residents.