One can easily become quite soured on the issue of student activism if writing about post-secondary issues for an extended (or any) period of time. If it isn’t one group bullying and throwing tantrums to get its message heard, it’s another resorting to ridiculous measures to prevent someone else’s message from being heard. And of course, there are always a fervent few along the way to call you out for your inherent privilege. Isn’t student action swell?
This time, though, the message is positive and the approach is respectful, which has done everyone’s blood pressure a lot of good, to say the least. Students at Queen’s University organized and led an event called “Queen’s Loves U,” this past Thursday in response to the deaths experienced by the Queen’s community this year. Six students have died during the school year, at least two by committing suicide. The event was started by third year political science student Kevin Imrie, who created a Facebook page after the most recent tragedy.
The goal of Queen’s Loves U was to reinvigorate a sense of community at Queen’s University. Along with providing support, encouraging random acts of kindness, and creating a space for dialogue, the event hosted tables where students could write open letters to the community, which will be bound and stored in the Queen’s archives. More than 4,000 people confirmed attendance on Facebook.
Critics of the event have said that it fails to pragmatically address student concerns. For example, graduating student Kavita Bissoondial writes in the Queen’s Journal:
For many of us who fall outside of the margins of what is thought of as ‘normal’ or ‘desirable’ at Queen’s, we have been taught since the beginning that we were never meant to be here [. . .] To say that Queen’s loves me is to completely ignore, dismiss and deny my five years at this institution and the trauma I am still working through.
While I won’t take on the premise that Queen’s actively teaches its “undesirable” students that they “were never meant to be here,” I don’t think Queen’s Loves U as an event serves to dismiss the struggles faced by students each day. In fact, it seems to do quite the opposite. Recognizing the backlog faced by mental health services at the university, students have taken it upon themselves to remind their peers that they can act as resources for each other on campus. While one could say that a more pragmatic approach would have been to focus on expanding mental health services at the university, this event is frankly more immediate, more inclusive, more personal, and in my opinion, simply better served.
So haters can keep on hating. It seems Queen’s loves u anyway.