If you take a look at the Queen’s demographic, you would be forgiven if you assume we all lead perfect lives. But you’d be sorely mistaken. As we walk on campus, we wear our masks and keep secrets close to our chests, but everything is not as it seems. Balancing school, work and a social life, your average Queen’s student is expected to experience stress throughout their long days. Unfortunately, for nearly 17,000 students, that stress doesn’t end when they get home. You see, 67% of Queen’s students come from broken homes. Like literally, they’re falling apart.
Take Brett Colbourne, a third year student living in the ghetto. When you first meet Brett, he smiles at you with a look that says “My family is wealthy and put together”. But when you actually see Brett’s home life, it becomes a very different story . None of the load bearing struts have any reinforcements, so you can understand why Brett feels unsupported sometimes.
Chika Obiwan is a 1st year Master’s student. By day, she studies abnormal psychology, and works at the Tea Room. If you ask any of Chika’s friends, supervisor, or coworkers, they all tell you how stable of a person she is. “You can’t rattle Chika, she is a rock” says Dr. Craig, her professor. “No matter what, Chika is always put together, and meets all her deadlines”. But at her home on Earl street, you see a very different story. You see, Chika’s bedroom doesn’t even have a door attached. When we asked Chika how this makes her feel, she can only describe the awfulness as “unhinging”.
Recently, the issue has been brought to the attention to the AMS. In response, several services have been made available to those in need: peer support workers, the student wellness centre, and carpenters.
But some issues even wood can’t fix. Take Thomas Winger, an Eng-Phys student who must juggle 30 hours of class. While Thomas may seem slated for an incredibly successful engineering career, he periodically reports “sinking feelings”, as if the weight of an entire duplex is pushing him into the eroding topsoil. Unfortunately, the foundation of Thomas’s house was much like his mental health: ready to give in at any moment.
John Aberforth says his problems started from before he even moved to Queen’s. “I was born into a home that was semi-detached,” John says. “But as the years went by, eventually it became fully separated”. John says his home at Queen’s isn’t nearly as bad, but the effect on his formative years was damaging enough. Nowadays, faulty plumbing is the biggest of his problems, but John’s eyes leak more than the faucet.
Your summer friends who can seem so happy may find themselves in a very different position come winter. As the frigid weather comes on, a broken home can leave them cold and alone. The feeling can be compared to the lack of a maternal presence, or the lack of up-to-code insulation and working radiators.
In the wake of St. Patrick’s Day, even more students are anticipated to have broken homes.