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Getting jumped at Queen’s for being Asian


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I remember doing an elective at queens. My girlfriend (who is caucasian, I'm not) got so many stares down the street. 

One group of people (students) openly laughed and pointed fingers at us across the street, yelling some racial slurs. 

I don't know what it is about Kingston to be honest - I thought Alberta would be worse, but actually there are quite a high number of inter-racial couples here and everyone's been delightful :)

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I studied at Queen’s for 4 years. While I do agree that there is a small Asian population, I personally never experienced any racism that was as blatant as described in the article. 

Racism is prevalent all across Canada, even in Vancovuer, I’ve been called a “Chink” on the street for no reason. 

It’s sad that this happened, but I’m sure it’s not that norm at Queen’s.

Queen’s is a fantastic school, don’t let one bad apple deter you from going there!

 

 

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3 hours ago, distressedpremed said:

I remember doing an elective at queens. My girlfriend (who is caucasian, I'm not) got so many stares down the street. 

One group of people (students) openly laughed and pointed fingers at us across the street, yelling some racial slurs. 

I don't know what it is about Kingston to be honest - I thought Alberta would be worse, but actually there are quite a high number of inter-racial couples here and everyone's been delightful :)

I'm currently at Queen's for grad studies. I read this article a month ago and it really bothered me. Did this happen to you late at night when people are intoxicated or did it happen in broad daylight?

Here's the **DELETED** thread from Queen's and the accounts of other people that experienced similar situations. 

I asked my friends because I was concerned that this will happen to me eventually. I've never been called a single racial term in my life but I feel like I am overdue for one. I asked him in this situation what is the best thing to do? If you choose to fight back, you run the risk of getting charged since self-defence laws are so bullshit. With this on your record, your med school chances are pretty much done. If you choose to take it or run away, it's not exactly an ideal solution either.

 

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8 hours ago, cw2lu4 said:

I'm currently at Queen's for grad studies. I read this article a month ago and it really bothered me. Did this happen to you late at night when people are intoxicated or did it happen in broad daylight?

Here's the **DELETED** thread from Queen's and the accounts of other people that experienced similar situations. 

I asked my friends because I was concerned that this will happen to me eventually. I've never been called a single racial term in my life but I feel like I am overdue for one. I asked him in this situation what is the best thing to do? If you choose to fight back, you run the risk of getting charged since self-defence laws are so bullshit. With this on your record, your med school chances are pretty much done. If you choose to take it or run away, it's not exactly an ideal solution either.

 

It happened during the day on a weekend. It was broad daylight. She just visited me for a bit while I was in Kingston - definitely soured her experience as well.  

I think other people are correct - you can't let one bad experience ruin your perception of the city.  I just didn't feel very safe after it happened and definitely I was on edge for the rest of my elective. My girlfriend did like the food options though, some of the restaurants were really nice. 

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  • 2 months later...
On 3/2/2018 at 12:38 PM, distressedpremed said:

I remember doing an elective at queens. My girlfriend (who is caucasian, I'm not) got so many stares down the street. 

One group of people (students) openly laughed and pointed fingers at us across the street, yelling some racial slurs. 

wow that's crazy...

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  • 9 months later...
On 2/28/2018 at 10:38 AM, BoopityBoop said:

https://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2015-02-27/features/racism-alive-subtle-queens/

https://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2017-11-10/news/students-organize-protest-demanding-anti-racism-action-from-administration/

https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/the-conversation-canada/racism-black-graduate-university-student_a_23424663/

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/costume-party-photos-queen-s-university-1.3863522

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/exk94w/queens-university-students-held-a-party-and-the-theme-was-racism

https://globalnews.ca/news/4330879/construction-worker-fired-racial-outburst-queens-university/

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/campus-notes/2016/12/queens-history-white-supremacy-much-longer-one-racist-party

https://medium.com/@vishmayaa/queens-university-guess-what-you-re-racist-3ada3826e2f1

https://www.ronfanfair.com/home/2019/2/24/jw3026lgramvp8oao08qkbiau2fw8k

https://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2015-10-16/lifestyle/a-brown-face-in-a-white-place/

Quote

Being a woman of colour in a primarily white school like Queen’s is incredibly daunting.

When I first received my offer of admission, I was ecstatic. Out of all the schools I applied to, Queen’s was secretly the only one I cared about. When the email popped into my inbox, I cried so much my mom thought I was actually crying because something terrible had happened. 

I thought that Queen’s was going to be my second home: I was ready to fall in love with my school. Then I realized that wasn’t going to happen. 

Frosh Week was everything I wanted it to be, but it was underscored by a nagging feeling of “I don’t belong here”. I was one of three people of colour in my 15-person Frosh group. 

When people asked me where I was from, they weren’t satisfied with my answer of Toronto. What they really wanted to know was my heritage, because when they looked at my brown skin, they thought I was different. 

I was stubborn. I stuck with my answer because I refused to let people categorize me based on the colour of my skin. But it was obvious that I stood out. 

One time, I caved and said I was from Sri Lanka. The girl I was talking to had never heard of Sri Lanka. In fact, she asked me if I had made a mistake because she was sure that Sri Lanka was a place from Lord of the Rings.

Everywhere I looked during Frosh Week, I saw a sea of white people. For me, this was scary as I was used to the diversity of Toronto. Naïvely, I thought all of Canada was like my hometown. I was experiencing culture shock in my own country, and it was the most bizarre feeling in the world. 

When I spoke to my family about this, they asked me what I’d been expecting. There was a reason most of my minority friends didn’t come to Queen’s, and it wasn’t the distance that was stopping them

I made lots of friends in first year, and I loved my floor mates, but it was so hard to shake off that feeling of being “other”. I come from a different cultural, social and economic background than 90 per cent of the people I met in first year. One time, someone approached me and mentioned that I was the first brown person they’d ever seen. 

Micro-aggressions were everywhere. When I left campus, it was clear that Kingston wasn’t very diverse either. 

I felt so alone in first year. I considered switching out of Queen’s to a school that was more welcoming and had more resources for people of colour. I felt alienated in the place that was supposed to be my new home. Eventually, I couldn’t handle it anymore, so I left. 

I went home for a weekend to recharge, and dragged myself back with reluctance the next Monday. I made it through one day before I realized that I truly couldn’t stay at Queen’s unless it changed. I also realized that some of this change needed to come from me, so I did the only thing I thought would help: I contacted my residence counselor. 

It was one of the most difficult things I did in my first year. But it wasn’t the fact that I needed help that scared me. It was that I might go to a counselor who was unequipped to handle the situation I was in. 

I needed to talk to someone who understood what it’s like to live in an environment that tries to be inclusive but is still so ignorant. I needed someone who understood the implications of coming from the cultural background I come from. Basically, what I needed was to talk to someone who wasn’t white. 

The unfortunate thing is that I never found that counselor. The counselor I did find was great. They were kind and sympathetic, but they couldn’t empathize because they were white too. 

I won’t fault them for that. The advice I was given was good, but it became clear to me that the University wasn’t equipped to handle the needs of students of colour. 

I was told that a good resource for me was Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre. In fairness, I was told Four Directions was a welcoming place that would always have a place for me if I needed to get away — but the fact that Four Directions, a safe haven for Aboriginal students, was recommended to me, someone who is very much not Aboriginal, is ridiculous. 

Four Directions shouldn’t be the best resource for students of colour. It’s supposed to be a safe space for Aboriginal students. It shouldn’t be used for all students of colour, because it isn’t fair of us to encroach on their space.  

I was also told that the Queen’s International Centre (QUIC) could help me. The problem with that, unfortunately, is I’m not an international student either. 

I also talked to the University Chaplain. Like my residence counselor, she was helpful, but it wasn’t enough. Unless one has experienced racism first hand, it’s hard to empathize. 

I say this with the utmost respect, but I don’t think either the chaplain or my residence counselor were properly equipped to talk about what it feels like to have someone call you a towelhead in class,  because they would never have been able to truly understand how worthless that slur made me feel. 

I want to make it clear that I don’t blame them specifically. They were incredibly kind and I will be forever grateful for what they did to help me. But they provided me with the best resources that Queen’s had to offer, which, for students of colour like me, isn’t much. I found solace in my extracurricular activities. I joined Queen’s Indian Students Association (QISA) — even though I wasn’t Indian — because they were about as close as I could get to my Sri Lankan roots, and they were incredibly welcoming. 

They provided me what I was looking for from the University: a truly safe space filled with people who sincerely understood my perspective. Cultural groups on campus are used as safe spaces by a lot of students. 

Raman Sawhney, ArtSci ’17, and current QISA Dance Team Executive, finds that there’s a lack of diversity on campus, and more so, compared to other Canadian universities. 

I found that the Queen’s community overall lacked ... cultural awareness and acceptance amongst the overall student body,” she said. “But for me specifically, it was not a problem because I was able to find my niche [with QISA].”

Groups like QISA are crucial in creating a welcoming environment, but a group of university students isn’t the best place to go for counselling. Though QISA was a big part of what got me through the year, it shouldn’t have been my best resource. 

Queen’s provides a lot of support to its students, but it seems like the University’s concept of the average student doesn’t include students of colour. 

Maybe the University does have a counselor dedicated to helping students of colour. But if that’s the case, after a long search I couldn’t find them, and that isn’t okay. 

The University would do well to look into exactly how welcoming it actually is. It took only a few weeks for me to decide that I wasn’t going to stay. It took six months for me to change my mind, and it wasn’t because of anything the school did for me. 

My reasons for staying at Queen’s are complicated and varied, but it came down to the fact that I wasn’t going to let the lack of diversity drive me away from a good opportunity. 

I’m still not happy with the university. It’s unacceptable that there are students, especially first years, who feel like they don’t belong because of the colour of their skin. A skit in Existere isn’t enough to make us feel welcome. It needs to be obvious to incoming students that there are resources for them that are tailored to them.  

Now that I’m in my second year, I know what I’m getting into. I have always been vocal about my struggles with the lack of diversity on campus, but now I make a special effort to point it out, starting with this article. 

Since I couldn’t find space for me, I made my own, on campus and off. I live with someone who goes through the same thing that I do, and together we’ve turned our house into a place that will be as welcoming as I wanted Queen’s to be. 

My relationship with Queen’s will always be complicated. I’m still waiting to pass judgment on whether or not Queen’s is the school for me. 

I’ll cheer for the football team at Homecoming, but when my friends ask me if I’m happy to be a Queen’s student, there will always be a little pause before I answer. 

 

 

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I’d like to point out that most of those articles are from a few years ago, and there is a difference between the undergrads and med students in terms of diversity. But yes it is appalling what has occurred in the past here. We slowly making change for the better, it always is harder in a non GTA city, and the city is becoming more diverse slowly but surely. It sure is sad to see some of the overt racism some students on campus can exhibit though by what the above quote :(, wonder what goes through their heads.

 

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2 hours ago, IMislove said:

I’d like to point out that most of those articles are from a few years ago, and there is a difference between the undergrads and med students in terms of diversity. But yes it is appalling what has occurred in the past here. We slowly making change for the better, it always is harder in a non GTA city, and the city is becoming more diverse slowly but surely. It sure is sad to see some of the overt racism some students on campus can exhibit though by what the above quote :(, wonder what goes through their heads.

A "few years ago" is what?... 2011? 2015? 2016? 2017?! Frankly, a "few years ago" excuse is a cop-out in 2019. This behaviour wasn't excusable back then, and it definitely does not hold up now. 

You may not have intended to frame it this way, but by saying "But yes it is appalling what has occurred in the past here" you are 1) excusing/defending the past and 2) making it sound as if it isn't a problem anymore. Students were protesting just 2 years ago for the administration's lack of action on racism. A culture of racism doesn't miraculously disappear in 2 years.

Also, let's not deny that Queen's has a systemic problem, and holds a reputation for being white and elitist. It's not just "some" students who've been implicated, faculty members' racism have been publicized as well. I can only imagine how many more profs and students are only "subtly racist", but not racist enough for those affected to make a formal complaint about it.

*after thought*
I don't mean to suggest Queen's Med students are perpetuators of the systemic problem because, as we know, most of us go to which ever med school accepts us. But I think recognizing the problems of one's new community and trying to be part of the solution is an important part of being a good physician. If not for compelling moral reasons - at least for your CV and CaRMs sake. lol.

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I disagree, I am not defending the past at all. I just don’t want people to think Kingston will always be a racist town. And never did I say it’s disappeared/denied there is a problem, only we’re trying to make it better and if course that’s going to take time and with it signs of progress (equity committes and policies). So if you’re going to do a strawmen argument and fear mongering then sure go ahead, but if I try and spout optimism to others that we’re trying there is nothing wrong eith that. In no way do I condone what has happened or continues to happen. And I definitely don’t need to be told traits of what makes a good physician thank you very much, I’ve already used my ability to enact change in other settings in the working world, outside of undergrad like most people. Thank you, next.

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