February 19, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 78  

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New Queen’s policy on Aboriginal admission

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

A new controversial admission policy at Queen’s University allows Aboriginal students to be admitted with marks lower than the regular admission average.

“We think Aboriginal students are underrepresented at Queen’s and particularly in the faculty of arts and science,” said Christine Overall, associate dean of arts and science, and co-chair of the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University. “The goal is not to meet a quota, but to encourage Aboriginal students to apply and give them a chance to get in,” she said, noting Queen’s has one of the highest admission averages in Canada.

The admission policy for Aboriginal candidates in the Queen’s faculty of arts and science specifies that Aboriginal students represent about one per cent of the student body. “[The faculty] has therefore developed an alternative process for assessment of Aboriginal candidates who wish to be admitted to a degree program full time. Up to a maximum of 10 qualified Aboriginal students per year [can be admitted],” the policy stated.

“A panel consisting of two representatives from the faculty of arts and science, the admissions officer from the Office of the University Registrar and two representatives from the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University will review the files of all candidates who wish to be considered by this alternative process,” the policy continued.

“There were a small number of young Tories [at Queen’s] who sent out a press release [to many recipients] which seemed to indicate that they didn’t even read the policy,” Overall said when asked to respond to criticisms of the policy. “We’ve had no other criticisms [for the policy], we’ve had a lot of support in fact.”

The Queen’s Progressive Conservative Club, which made the criticisms, could not be reached for comment due to Reading Week.

“There is no separate admission system for Native people [at Western],” said Vivian Peters, co-ordinator of First Nations Services and member of the Aboriginal Council of Western.

Lori Gribbon, manager of undergraduate admissions and liaison services at the Office of the Registrar at Western, did not return phone calls when contacted to confirm this fact.

“Everyone, regardless of race or gender, should be allowed to apply to university under the same standards,” said Kristen Caschera, a fourth-year English student.

“Once they’re in it’s up to them to live up to the standards of the university,” said fourth-year arts student Glen Daniel. “Historically and presently, we see Aboriginals have a lacking presence in a lot of professional fields.”



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