Board of Trustees – Report of the Rector – March 2, 2012 Nick Francis – Rector of Queen’s University
Trustees of Queen’s University,
As we move toward the end of another academic year, it is important that we take time to reflect on our successes and failures before moving forward. There is no denying that we are in challenging times and my sense is that our extended Queen’s community is growing tired of sitting idle when it comes to a wide range of financial, academic, and governance issues facing the University. Fortunately, collective bargaining negotiations with QUFA and CUPE over the past summer went well and we were able to save students, staff, and faculty from disastrous consequences. One hopes that we will similarly achieve positive resolution as we work together on the current multitude of issues that include reviews of the university alcohol policy, peer-run non-academic discipline systems, structural changes to the operations of orientation week, resource challenges on the departmental level, disadvantages of the new GPA system, and the unveiling of our new academic plan. These are generating discussion, concerns, and even fear among students, faculty and alumni. I feel that it is only necessary to briefly echo what has been said before. United as one we can and will overcome these challenges. No one part of our community should be disconnected from another, we will not be able to drive ahead successfully if we leave any members behind.
The past few months for students have been the typical fast-paced ride back into the busy lives we lead. From the sleepy holiday break in December, to a fast paced January, and the seemingly never ending mid-term season that many students are still stuck in. Students from all walks of life are singularly grateful for the winter reading week. Some students flew across the globe to warmer climates for vacation, while others stayed back in the frosty North to catch up on what appears to be never-ending assignments and studying. Winter reading week is extremely valuable to many students as it is a great time for them to decompress. It can be difficult to deal with the high levels of stress that Queen’s students feel each semester insofar as reaching increased levels of academic and extracurricular achievement frequently comes at the cost of their sleep and well-being. This is an issue that both students and our administration recognize must be a priority. That priority is mental health.
Many students feel that Mental health is something that is still of great importance, and it is an issue to which I, along with my student leadership colleagues remain especially sensitive. That is why it was with great pleasure that I enjoyed the honour of representing students in thanking Bell Canada for their kind donation to Mental Health and Anti-Stigma research here at Queen’s. Many students I talked to were very excited about this announcement and they were willing to share their experience with the challenges of stigma around mental health. These discussions further confirmed that this research is absolutely integral to the eventual elimination of stigma
and the well-being of our students. The donation from Bell Canada did more than enable a wellrespected researcher to establish the first chair of its kind in the world. Through the marketing and announcement of the gift, Bell Canada and the University opened the doors for discussion on campus surrounding mental health to commence. Even if students were unaware of the full details surrounding the announcement, the issue of mental health made its way into the conversations of all members of our community. If even one student’s life was saved or improved from the discussions that occurred, then there is an incalculable value arising from this announcement.
Continuing to improve resources and knowledge of mental health is essential for the enhancement of student lives on campus both inside and outside the classroom. The discussions surrounding stigma must continue. It is possible that stigma can be at times more debilitating than the actual symptoms of a mental health issue. This is why it is necessary to keep an open dialogue pertaining to mental health here at Queen’s and outside of the campus as well.
Lastly, I would like to share the speech I gave on behalf of students at the press conference for Bell Canada’s gift to Mental Health and Anti-Stigma research at Queen’s.
Text: http://myams.org/news/ams-blog/on-the-bell-mental-health-and-anti-stigma-researchchair.aspx Video: http://streaming.queensu.ca/vmp/html/bell_queens.html
Princeps Servusque Es, Be a leader and a servant, Nick Francis Rector, Queen’s University