NEWS
02/05/2020 19:59 EST

‘Coronavirus Party’ At Queen’s University Prompts Apologies From Students

Students wore surgical face masks and drank Corona beer.

Students at the same Ontario university where white students dressed up as Middle Eastern sheiks, Viet Cong guerrillas and Buddhist monks at a party in 2016 are apologizing after participating in a “coronavirus-themed” party this past weekend.

As first reported by the campus newspaper, the Queen’s University Journal, the party on Saturday involving students from Queen’s University in Kingston featured students wearing surgical face masks and drinking Corona beer in a room decorated with biohazard signs. 

The Journal republished since-deleted Instagram photos from the party, including one captioned “infect me Daddy.” One of the students involved, who is also a part of the school’s student government structure, issued an apology on Facebook earlier this week. 

Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press Images
Queen's University campus in Kingston, Ontario on Friday, May 24, 2019. 

“I attended a Corona party on Saturday February 1st 2020, this action was in poor taste and I apologize,” Tyler MacIntyre wrote in a post quoted by the Journal. “I am aware that my participation implicitly made light of a serious issue that affects many people, both inside and outside of the Queen’s university community.”

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak of a novel coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China, a “global health emergency.” Over 500 people in China — and one in the Philippines — have died from the virus while more than 24,000 others have contracted it around the world, as of Wednesday. There are five confirmed cases in Canada — three in Ontario and two in B.C. All were people with connections to recent travel to Wuhan. 

The outbreak of the virus has also led to an overwhelming amount of racism directed at Asian and Asian immigrant populations. 

After news of the party at Queen’s broke, the school’s principal Patrick Deane issued a statement calling on the community to “face and directly combat” the “insidious social challenge” emerging during the outbreak.

“Actions taken out of fear, guided by misinformation and false assumptions, do a disservice to every member of our community. Ignorantly ostracizing Chinese and Asian students will rip apart the beautiful tapestry of our international campus and must be repudiated by everyone,” he wrote. “Now is a time to come together and care for one another, with dignity and respect. This virus does not discriminate, and our greatest weapon against it is knowledge and correct, preventive action.” 

Actions taken out of fear, guided by misinformation and false assumptions, do a disservice to every member of our community.Queen's University principal Patrick Deane

The school’s student union, the Alma Mater Society, also issued a statement Monday condemning the event.

“Our community needs to do better and to be better, particularly when engaging in discourse surrounding issues that affect our world,” the statement read. “We need to rise above resorting to ignorance and hatred. Belittling or invalidating a person’s feelings and opinions only serves to fuel the discriminatory rhetoric that we should all work to eliminate from our campus.

″... As the leaders of tomorrow, we need to set the example by considering how our words and actions have meaning.”

Not the first time

Students at Queen’s have made news for a problematic party before. In 2016, the university came under fire following an off-campus party where attendees were encouraged to dress in racist stereotypes.

Photographs circulating on social media after the party showed students, most of them white, dressed as Middle Eastern sheiks, Viet Cong guerrillas and Buddhist monks.

WATCH: Racist costume party at Ontario university under investigation. Story continues below. 

 

“Queen’s strives to be a diverse and inclusive community free from discrimination or harassment of any kind. Any event that degrades, mocks, or marginalizes a group or groups of people is completely unacceptable,″ the school’s principal at the time, Daniel Woolf, said in a statement.

“These events undermine Queen’s ability to provide a welcoming and respectful campus environment,” Alma Mater Society vice-president Carolyn Thompson told the CBC at the time

“We need to have an open and productive dialogue about race and racism on campus.”

Also on HuffPost.