Queen's University

University takes action on Coroner’s recommendations

 
2012-01-31

The Regional Coroner who made recommendations to Queen’s after the accidental deaths of two students in Fall 2010 says he is satisfied with the university’s actions and progress to date.

Dr. Roger Skinner met recently with university representatives, who outlined the steps that have been taken related to alcohol and safety resources in residences, the work underway on reviews of the non-academic student discipline systems and the Campus Alcohol Policy, as well as educational programs about alcohol misuse.

“A tremendous amount has been accomplished over the last several months,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “There is more that we want to achieve and we will continue to build on what has been done so far. There has been great collaboration across the campus on these important initiatives and a lot of momentum. We are pleased the Coroner has expressed satisfaction with our approach and actions and we will keep working to improve the way we support student health and well-being.”

Queen’s adopted a policy of no alcohol in residence during Orientation Week and will continue to enforce the new policy this fall.

“As a result of this decision, we saw a reduction in incidents associated with alcohol misuse,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “We also heard from students who reported that the policy encouraged and supported safe and responsible choices and reduced the pressure to drink.”

The volume of alcohol that of-age students are allowed to have in residence has been reduced and alcohol is no longer allowed in floor common rooms. Residence Life staff have improved access to information about students in residence who are of drinking age – more than 92% of first-years are underage – so they can take quick action if there is a violation. In addition, new processes to document alcohol-related violations have been implemented to increase the consistency, clarity and efficacy of educational and peer-to-peer interventions.

“Our goal is to foster a safe environment in residence and we are all encouraged by the continuing effects of the changes that have been made,” says Ms Tierney.

A new residence-focused security supervisor has been in place since last summer and a second position has recently been added. These roles respond to any incidents of concern and promote education and awareness regarding safety and community development.

Several campus-wide safety-related actions have been taken, including:

• Signs posted on roof-access doors prohibiting access
• New locks on all roof-access doors
• Regular inspections of residence rooms and Common Room screens
• New anti-vandalism screws on residence window screens to discourage their removal, and
• Expanded distribution of safety resources and information during Orientation Week, in Residences and by the AMS, SGPS, Campus Security, Kingston Police, Kingston Fire and Rescue, Health, Counseling and Disability Services and the Queen’s University International Centre.

A committee of students, faculty and staff is reviewing Queen’s non-academic discipline systems and is expected to report its recommendations to the Provost within the next few months.

The university’s student Health Promotion and Health Education Coordinator is leading a review and update of the Campus Alcohol Policy, guided by the university’s Alcohol Working Group. That group has adopted a multi-faceted strategy to address alcohol misuse on campus.

Some of the education initiatives include:
• Updating and expanding alcohol-related sanctions: E-CHUG, an online educational program, reflective questions, a mandatory meeting and review with Residence Life staff, workshops on responsible alcohol use, and counseling
• Year-round health promotion - awareness, education, harm-reduction - by Residence Life staff, dons and peers
• A new monthly e-magazine sent to all students by HCDS that provides an interactive accessible way to communicate health and wellness information
• A Bystander Intervention campaign and training planned for this term to help empower students to assess situations and try to directly or indirectly interrupt unsafe behaviours, and
• An alcohol awareness campaign focusing on social norms planned for fall 2012 by the AMS, SGPS and the Health Promotion/Education unit.

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