Queen’s recognizes student initiatives for improving town-gown relations
Queen’s has announced the three recipients of the university’s new Student Civic Responsibility Award which honors exceptional students for initiatives that strengthen relationships between the city and the university.
They are Ryan Quinlan-Keech, Aislinn McCarry and Melanie Bedore, who were nominated by members of both Queen’s and Kingston communities.
The $2,500 award aims to highlight and reinforce the heightened sense of community responsibility many Queen’s students show each year in their work with community initiatives and local charities.
"Many members of the Kingston community have acknowledged the contributions of Queen’s students to the quality of life in this city,” says Patrick Deane, Vice Principal (Academic). “Reviewing the nominations for the first Civic Responsibility Awards, however, members of the selection committee were struck by the extraordinary range of activities covered, as well as by the great depth of commitment shown by nominees. It was a great pleasure to learn about their work, and a privilege to be able to reward it.”
AMS vice president of municipal affairs Ryan Quinlan-Keech, nominated by AMS president James McMillan, is being recognized for his many contributions to town-gown relations during his time at Queen’s. Mr. Quinlan-Keech’s commitment on behalf of students to work with Queen’s administration and the City helped to secure a safe Homecoming for all participants last fall. Other noteworthy initiatives include the spearheading of the first Golden Cockroach Award designed to expose poor living conditions in the student neighbourhood, and a variety of local volunteer fundraising and community relations activities throughout his years at Queen’s.
“As a native Kingstonian, the relationship between students and the Kingston community matters quite a bit to me, and I hope that the initiatives that I have been able to put in place over the past year will bear fruit well into the future" says Mr. Quinlan-Keech. “I’m incredibly humbled by this award - it’s always wonderful to receive recognition for one’s efforts, and to have received an honour like this from the university that I care so much about is absolutely fantastic.”
Nominated by Sydenham Ward Tenants’ and Ratepayers’ Association, for her role as the 2006-07 Green Scheme project coordinator, Aislinn McCarry led a group of students dedicated to urban renewal in initiatives like the greening of the Hospice Palliative Care Garden in City Park, the King Street Historic Replanting project and the grooming of park grounds at Navy Memorial Park.
PhD student Melanie Bedore, nominated by Queen’s geography professor Betsy Donald, works in partnership with the Kingston branch of the John Howard Society to advance the rights and responsibilities of community membership. One of her most notable contributions was to spearhead a survey of the impact on north Kingston community members of the closure of the Kingslake IGA on Division Street, creating a ‘food desert’ in the city’s north end.
The Civic Responsibility Award will be granted annually to recognize and reward civic-minded students.
Another recent initiative by the university to bridge the Queen’s and Kingston communities is the Queen’s University Student Community Relations and Civic Responsibility Fund, founded last fall. Four projects have been selected for a total of $14,000 funding for next year. They are conferences on leadership and social indifference coordinated by Students Against Indifference, an art mural on the Clergy Street side of the Queen’s Centre construction site and Child Arts, an after-school arts and drama program for children, and further work by the Green Scheme.
“Just as last year, the applications were very diverse,” says V.P. Deane. “It confirms the need for funding of this sort and also confirms that the range of activities that our students are involved in is far ranging and more than anyone might have expected.”
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