Homecoming going awry

Homecoming weekend will be cancelled and replaced with a Spring Reunion for at least the next two years, Principal Tom Williams announced earlier this week. Next year’s event, originally planned for Sept. 25 to 27, will now be held May 22 to 24.

Williams said the decision is a response to safety concerns raised about the unsanctioned Aberdeen Street party that occurs on Homecoming weekend each year. He said another factor was maintaining the University’s national reputation, which has suffered since a group of students flipped a car on Aberdeen Street during Homecoming weekend in 2005.

It’s disappointing that the University’s taking such a drastic action that punishes the innocent parties involved without solving the problem.

Alumni who are celebrating milestone reunions in the next two years will miss out on one of Queen’s strongest traditions. Although festivities will be moved to a spring reunion, some of the most important elements, such as the football game, will be lost.

Moving Homecoming to a weekend in May when most students won’t be in Kingston destroys the student-alumni interaction that’s integral to Homecoming festivities.

Students who chose Queen’s for its school spirit and traditions will now lose the opportunity to participate in them.

Homecoming is a good opportunity to reconnect alumni to their alma mater and encourage them to donate to the University and Queen’s could end up losing a lot of donations with the date change.

If students want to party, they’ll find an excuse to invite their out-of-town friends over for a weekend with or without Homecoming. With social networking sites it’s possible students could co-ordinate a big party on Aberdeen Street anytime during the year.

The University appears to be stepping away from, not stepping up to, the issue. It seems Queen’s wants to distance itself from the unsanctioned party so it can’t be held responsible for anything that goes wrong.

Williams said the University considered other options, such as moving the event to a later date in fall term or to winter term, when the cold might discourage students from partying on Aberdeen. Other groups have suggested having a sanctioned street party.

It’s disappointing that the University didn’t give more serious consideration to these workable ideas and chose instead to destroy a positive and beloved tradition.

Preventing alumni from coming home won’t make the problem go away.

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