Free Speech Nonsense

Hey, folks

free speech wall articleMaybe this has been beaten to death already, but I’d like to say my piece. If you go to Queen’s, you’ve almost definitely heard about the free speech wall being taken down due to racial slurs, blah blah blah… There are two main arguments I’ve heard here: One is that people have a right to their opinion no matter what it is, and they should be allowed to express that opinion. I agree. The other is that people also have to right to feel like they are safe and accepted at their university and not feel at risk of becoming the victim of a hate crime. I also agree. How can I possibly agree to both? Let me tell you…

There’s a difference between having a different opinion from others and just being plain offensive. This free speech wall had derogatory slang and offensive remarks (and, lets be honest, a lot of happy-go-lucky “tell someone you love them” crap, too). If political leaders got up on stage and said “Gays shouldn’t be allowed to get married cuz fags don’t deserve that shit. Fuck ’em all”, we wouldn’t take them seriously. We would probably boo them off the stage for lack of tact. On top of that, if you sound like an idiot when you talk by using cuss words and words designed to be offensive, no one will listen to the rest of your argument unless they’re looking for a good laugh. If you have an honest opinion that gay marriage would be disruptive to society or whatever, then fine. If you believe that black people are actually dumber than white people due to genetics, then fine, I guess. It’s not my job or right to tell you what you are allowed to believe. But if you truly want people to take your opinion seriously, then express your opinion intelligently, in a open debate where your opponent can defend themselves. Don’t scribble it on a free speech wall. No one’s going to see it and go “Oh hey! That’s a good point! I’ve never thought of it like that before.”

The people who put the wall up (and who were pissed when it was taken down) argue that it’s not the university’s job to tell people what is offensive and what isn’t, and to make decisions based on personal opinions of what’s offensive. But let’s get real: words like “fag” and “nigger” are intended to be offensive. No one uses those words in an intelligent debate or rational discussion. I can’t think of a single situation in which they can be used in a way that isn’t offensive.

If you’ve read the rest of my blog, you understand that I’m obviously a fan of inclusivity and equality. But, like I said, it’s not my job or right to tell people what to believe. There was one thing that stood out to me about this wall though. The wall was titled “Queen’s Free Speech Wall”. Someone crossed out the “Free” and wrote “FACELESS“. And I think that is pretty damn brilliant. It’s an anonymous opinion. Sure, someone may get to share their opinion that they don’t think would be accepted otherwise, but a lot of people will also write stupid things they don’t really mean because they know it won’t be traced back to them. Have you seen the Internet lately? One YouTube personality once told a story about someone who wrote her a tweet saying, “You should go kill yourself”. The YouTuber retweeted her comment out of shock and confusion. And the person I assumed was a total asshole for telling a stranger to go kill themselves was shocked that she had been called out and apologized for her behaviour, saying she had had a bad day and didn’t really mean it. Have a look at the bottom of this picture below: someone wrote “Abolish Human Rights”. Somehow, I don’t think that was an actual call to action based on sincere beliefs.

So there, I’ve said my piece. Let me know if you have another opinion, or if you think I missed something important in this post. And if you’re someone who’s written something stupid and derogatory because you didn’t think it would be traced back to you, please know that even anonymous words can hurt. And that really sucks if you caused someone pain with something you actually didn’t mean.

free speech wall

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My Last Class

I am about to go into the very last class of my first year at Queen’s University.

Time has never passed as quickly as it has this year, especially this March and April. Fast than summer break, faster than exchange, faster than vacation. You know how time flies when you’re having fun? Apparently it surpasses the speed of light when you’re having a mental breakdown. That’s basically what this year has been for me. A complete breakdown and reassembly of how I think about myself, my education, and my relationships. I’ve learned a lot about myself that I wish I didn’t know. I’ve learned that it’s hard to make all the right moves in a long-distance relationship, that I’m not so great with handling others’ illnesses, and that I have some serious self-esteem issues that I didn’t know I had. I’ve learned what a panic attack really feels like. I’ve learned that I don’t like panic attacks.

But! I’ve also learned that even if I don’t make the right move, I can still fix things, especially with the help of loved ones. I’ve learned that other people do not have to define my life and how I operate through it . I’ve learned that I have an entire lifetime to work on myself and develop into the person I truly want to be. I’ve learned that I thrive under pressure and that I have way more umph! in me than I ever imagined or wished for. Most importantly, I’ve learned that, no matter how low I feel, no matter how many crappy choices I make, there are people in my life who will push me to go further, challenge me to do better, and support me through all of it. People like T.A.’s who see that I have potential, my parents who have always been there for me, my partner who encourages me like no one else, and even myself.

Coming up to the final exams of my first year of university is the first time in my life that I’ve looked in the mirror and honestly been able to say “What the hell, Kenz? You can do better,” instead of “You should be able to do better.” And for the first time in my life, I can respond (yes, I respond to myself) with “Wait a sec. Yea, I can do better than this,” instead of “I wish I knew how,” or “I wish I had it in me.” I can’t thank my family, my partner, and my new friends enough for helping me with this incredible personal growth that I didn’t know was possible.

It’s up to me to keep the cycle of positive reinforcement going. The joy of university for me is that the harder I try, the better my marks are. That’s just not something that happened for me in high school. I was aiming for university when they wanted cookie cutter, and you don’t get marks in high school for doing more than what your teacher asks for. Every week, especially at the end of the year when all the marks start flooding in, I realize that high school was a tiny, insignificant blip on my radar, a mere stepping stone to getting where I need to be right now.

Alright, enough philosophizing. I’ve learned a lot about applying for a major lately. At the beginning of the year, I was terrified that I just wouldn’t be capable of getting the grades to major in Psychology. It’s the most competitive major to get into in the Arts and Sciences at Queen’s. Now that we’ve reached the end of the year, despite all of my panicking, it turns out that a Psych major may very well be in my cards after all. (To all my lovely family members reading this, I know you were never worried, but I honestly was for a while.) As it currently stands, I need higher than a 70% on my final exam to get into Psychology, which is definitely doable. I’m feeling very confident (knock on wood) because the topics we’ve worked on this semester (personality, emotions, social life, development, etc.) are all things I’m absolutely fascinated by, so I’ve really soaked it all in. Wish me luck!

So, time for my last class … I wish it was one I liked. :P After this, I’m off to the library for more studying and final essay writing. As of this moment, there are 12 days, 21 hours, and 30 minutes until I am home at last, and dropping into unconsciousness in my proper-sized bed for a month. This will likely be my last communication until I become conscious again.

Let me know how your first year went or anything important you learned this year in the comments. I love to hear these things. Thanks for sticking with me through my first year, folks!

Kenzie

Abode, a breeze, a break!

Why, hello again! (Check me out, writing multiple posts in such quick succession!)

First and most important…I have a home next year!!!! I’m so unbelievably excited about this! Along with three amazing girls from my floor, I will be living in an adorable house not too far from campus! The rent isn’t bad and it’s not falling apart! We’ve already decided who gets what room and who’s bringing what furniture. I’ve gotta say, this is a very exciting, (so close to being) grown up experience for me. I’m already bursting with excitement for next September!

One of my housemates and I went to a housing meeting, which was intended to inform us of the various ways and trickery of landlords in Kingston and the kinds of things we should be looking for and avoiding in our house buying process. One of the hosts of the meeting explained why it’s so detrimental to call the student housing area for Queen’s ‘the ghetto’. If we imagine our home as part of a ghetto (and when you think about it, that’s just awful), we’ll treat it as such. We’ll expect less from our landlords and their properties, and we’ll get less. So, Queen’s is pushing the newer term ‘the university district’. I like it. I think it sounds fancy. Do I think people will adopt the new name? Not a chance: It’s not catchy enough, and just calling it ‘the district’ sounds creepy.

How is your housing experience going? If you’re a first year, have you found your perfect house yet or are you still looking? If you already have a house, do you have any tips and tricks for dealing with landlords or making your temporary house feel like home? Let me know!

Secondly, what is up with this Canadian winter? Last week was a lovely -36°. Joy. And yet this week will have a high of 10°! Has this ever happened before? I think not. And I’ve gotta say, I’m not loving this Kingston-style windchill. -20° is fine and Canadian enough, but when you add on another -10° for windchill, it does not inspire leaving the building!

Lastly, I feel a little spoiled with all these breaks from school! I know they say second semester goes by fast; I have experienced this in high school. But it honestly feels like I just got off winter break…and yet it’s only another little while until spring reading week! Granted, I’ll probably have to do a ton of work and readings during my spring break. But if I can do that work at home with my man and a fireplace and free food that’s made with love, I say that’s a pretty good deal. How are you finding your second semester? Did you learn anything in first semester that you’d like to share?

And on that note, I find myself hungry. I shall venture to the caf to find something semi-healthy.

Talk soon, Kenzie

Learning Experiences

Hey there, stranger!

As you may know, I began this blog to record my experiences as a university students. So take the last four and a half months of complete inactivity on this blog as a sign of what university life is like: keepgoingdontstophurryup.

That pretty much sums it all up.

First semester was certainly a learning experience for me. I have figured out:

  • how lectures work (go to them)
  • what a TA can do for you (highly dependent on their accent)
  • what meal plan to get (not the one I’m on)
  • the best places to study (anywhere that’s not residence)
  • and when to start studying for exams (way before whenever you actually started…even if that was October)
  • Oh! And I learned school stuff too. Really.

The main thing to take away from first semester was that I survived. And that I only have to do it seven more times before I can graduate! All in all, I’m just glad to say that 2012 is over. The entire year was, like I said, a learning experience, and an effective one at that…but not one I’d like to go through again. Getting into 2013, I’m feeling a lot more prepared and optimistic for what’s coming in second semester and in the next few years of university.

So, “What is coming in second semester??” you might ask, with unbridled excitement. Well, it’s been really exciting so far, actually! I’ve started a new course called Gender Studies (but I’m calling it Minority Studies in my head because that seems more appropriate). The lectures are fascinating. I honestly just want to bring a bag of popcorn to this enlightening two hour event I get to go to every week. So far, we’ve watched Ellen and analyzed Tinkerbell in class and been given a chance to choose what we would like to learn this semester. On top of that, my Sociology professor analyzed two hockey games and an entire episode of Big Bang Theory today. I now know why Sheldon is funny. …And with the semester starting off this well, I have lots of plans for the rest of it.

I once read that you’re not supposed to tell people what your goals and resolutions are because the satisfaction you get from saying you’re going to do it and other people congratulating you makes you feel like you’ve already done your job. So I’m not going to tell you what my goals are! But I will tell you what’s on the menu in the next month or so:

  • find and lease a house in Kingston for myself and three of my friends from residence
  • keep chugging along in my English, Psychology, Religion, and Sociology courses
  • start my new fascinating course on Gender Studies (I have to blog for that course, so I’ll be posting links!)
  • keep posting on my blog??

I do apologize for not making time to blog. Now that I’ve got the hang of this “university” thing, I’m hoping to make time to write more for you guys!

Talk soon!

Kenzie

Residence Orientation

Day 1: Move-in Day

Well I’m here folks! I have finally made it to Queen’s University. Move-in day on Sunday was a blast. My room started out as a tiny little hole with broken windows. And now, thanks to my mum, dad, and boyfriend, I have a lovely little zen abode hidden in the dank-ish hallways of Healey House. I kind of love it. The first night, we went to our first residence dinner, which was followed by our very first “West Walk” to main campus from our residence here on West campus. We went to the opening ceremonies at the ARC (Athletics and Recreation Centre), and watched 21 Jump Street with our new dorm mates. It was quite the induction into Queen’s.

Day 2: Tours, my first Queen’s football game, and a carnival

You can really feel the community in a big way at Queen’s; it seeps from the buildings and floods the campus streets. It’s old and tight knit and competitive as hell. The Commerce and Engineering students are automatic rivals, the entire frosh population is subject to various forms of light hazing (water guns, water balloons, having the crap scared out of us by running mobs of upper year students yelling “FROOOOOSHHHHH!!!”), and, of course, the rivalry of West Campus vs. everyone else (…West is best, folks). The football game was awesome. Never have I seen a crowd of people so enthusiastic about their own team winning. And the long-standing tradition of Queen’s students singing The Oil Thigh after every touchdown must be really intimidating for other teams.

We ended the day with the Frosh Carnival and MuchMusic Dance Party. When I and the girls from my floor walked into the dance, held at a local community centre, we all said ‘Wow…didn’t think it would be this cool.” The music wasn’t really my style — a lot of Pitbull and Rihanna — but there was rock climbing, a photo booth, cotton candy and snow cone machines, and plenty of blow up tents, including a jump tent, two obstacle relay races, and a human foosball ‘court’. It was quite the event. Queen’s really goes all out for its students.

Day 3: Existere and Casino Night

Tuesday was the third and last day of Residence Orientation. We had down-time all morning to sleep off our two late nights. After lunch we all once again walked back to main campus to watch the hilarious comedy show by Existere (a Queen’s group) about some of the misconception students may have about university and their peers. We finished the day with Casino Night, a black and white night of legalized gambling, poker, salsa dancing and iPad prizes. The girls on my floor (yes, i include myself in that) dressed to kill.

So what I can tell you, folks, is that I probably won’t be applying for main campus residence after all. It’s taken a lot out of me to meet as many people as I have, and I also have my room just right. It would be such a pain to move. Next up is ArtSci Faculty Orientation from Wednesday until Saturday. Expect another post this weekend summing up my Orientation week for my first year of university.

Thanks for reading!

Kenzie

Residence and Results

Happy Monday readers :)

Before I tell you what residence I’m in, I’d like to say that I thought the Universe would be quite forgiving in this particular lottery. Usually I’m quite picky about what I want. But when it came to residences, I would have been happy with most of them. “My only stipulations,” I told the universe, “are that I would really like a single room, and it needs to be on main campus, preferably but not necessarily, in a co-ed residence.” Now that’s a pretty easy to please request, I think. All but one residence are on main campus, all but two residences are co-ed, and there’s a surprisingly large percentage of single rooms at Queen’s. Should be easy! Soooo…

Single room? Check. :)

Co-ed residence? Check. :)

On main campus? ….%$@&!@?&!!!!!

Seriously?! The single residence I didn’t want to be in is the one I end up with? You suck this week, Universe. This isn’t just blind displeasure though: I have logical reasons as to why I want to be on main campus and not in Jean Royce Hall. Being away from the action is 50% of it. I’m an introvert (thus the blog) but I wanted to challenge myself as I started university to be more social, more out-going and way more involved in my school community. If you’re an extravert, you may not understand why it’s a challenge at all, and if you’re an introvert, you may think I’m crazy, but it’s something that’s very important to me.

The other 50% is that I also know my limits. While I do want to challenge my current levels of social participation, I also know that if I challenge my severe tendencies to procrastinate…I will fail…miserably. If I’m not 4 minutes from the gym, I won’t go for a run. If I’m not 4 minutes from the library, I won’t go research…not in -20 degrees anyway. Logical reasons. Apparently I can apply for a room on main campus though, after September 10. We shall see!

So, how stressed are you about your first year? The results are in!

  • Almost half of you felt like high school hasn’t really prepared you for university, but only one poor guy or girl felt completely unprepared.
  • A third of you were worried most about the course loads and another third was worried about being on your own for the first time.
  • Most of you know a pretty decent amount of information about your new school, courses, teachers, and town. 8% of you knew the name of the school and that you got in, and 10% of you knew everything there is to know.
  • Nobody suggested that their school gave them no or even little/poor information. Everyone felt their school was at least pretty good.
  • And finally, for the question regarding the Queen’s Common Reading Program, 41% liked the idea but wanted a better book and 23% just love the idea.

That’s it for today, folks. If there’s anything you’d like to hear about from me, or any thoughts you may have on today’s post, let me know in the comments!

Kenz

Quarters, Clubs, and Classics

Well hello again :)

There are three things that interest me this week: living quarters at university, joining clubs, and another classic novel.

First, most importantly, and most relevant, I recently received an email from Queen’s letting me know that the (tentative) date for residence/roommate announcements will be August 3rd…this Friday! (Can you believe it’s almost August???) I’m very excited to find out if I’ll be getting my first choice for room-type and which residence I’ve been put into.

When we were accepted to Queen’s and guaranteed residence, we were asked to list our top five preferences by room-type, not residence building. Honestly, I’m not really a fan of that way of doing it, but I suppose some of the older buildings would never hear the sound of footsteps again if we could pick any residence we want. My top four were all different single room options, and since I ran out of those the fifth preference had to be a double room option. Those of you who know me well know that I’m way too OCD to survive living in such close quarters with someone, so fingers crossed (for my potential roommate’s sake) that I get a single room.

In terms of residence, what I’m most interested in is knowing what my chances are of getting the kind of room I want and if other people have the same ideas as me. Does everyone want a single room? Or do most people want to know what having a roommate is like? Do you want a bathroom attached to your room? Do me a favour and answer the poll below.

Another thought that’s been on my mind lately is joining clubs/societies/groups/associations at university. Other than the usual ‘it’s a great way to make friends,’ I think joining a club that really follows what I’m interested in might be a great way to spend some of my time and even beef up my resume a bit. Does anyone already have plans for clubs they might like to join? Or are you waiting to get to university to check out all your options?

Last but not least, I have finally started another classic: the Lord of the Rings series. I was warned that it’s nothing like The Hobbit and it’s crazy hard to get through, but I’m honestly not finding it nearly as descriptive and detailed as people have told me! Although, that may be because my brain automatically reads a little quicker (you might call this skimming) when I get to the family history sections…which, again, don’t happen as often as I was warned they would!

I must admit though that it is a slow read; the words are very small and there are a lot of them on each page. Overall, I’d have to say definitely read The Hobbit, and really make an effort to read Lord of the Rings. I don’t want to say the books are better than the movies, as the movies did take out a few somewhat unnecessary details of the books, but the books are definitely more involved and rewarding. And if you’ve already watched the movies, that will help you picture the many characters as you read! If you’ve read the books and watched the movies, feel free to let me know what your thoughts are. Is one media better than the other in this situation?

Also, don’t be afraid to comment guys! You won’t be automatically subscribed if you don’t want to be (you can do that too though!), you won’t get a million emails from me or from WordPress, and I promise to respond to your comments!

That’s it for today folks!

Kenz