Coming home to apathy

Tyler Ball
Tyler Ball

With camera in hand, I ventured onto the trash-filled Aberdeen Street early Saturday night and was immediately in a bad mood.

I like a good party as much as anybody else, but the annual street party is too excessive and differs from the real reason we celebrate Homecoming.

At 10:30 p.m. Aberdeen was under a heavy mist and already filled with partiers as I arrived from the Journal office. A few things about the party don’t change from year to year—the fraternal affection of the male-dominated crowd, piles of broken glass and Johnson Street lined with police officers.

My jaded mood aside, there were others who were clearly not enjoying themselves. I spotted a few lone wanderers, their cell phones in hand, trying to contact their friends, sour faces that had been pushed one too many times and the drinkers who had gone too hard too early.

I also suspect the ratio of visitors to Queen’s students increased; I heard, “Is this Aberdeen?” on the street more times this year than any other.

The results of the ASUS survey have yet to be seen, but I suspect that not only are more of the partiers from outside the Queen’s community than in previous years, but fewer Queen’s students are participating in the street party.

I noticed a difference in enthusiasm among the participants and heard frequent exclamations of, “I’m sick of this!” and “Why did we even come here?” from passers-by.

It appears the anticipation and excitement surrounding the event is diminished by the fact that it’s little more than a street filled with screaming, drunken people. And as the night went on—and I began to realize that once you have taken one photo of the crowd you have taken them all—I certainly agreed.

Perhaps students forget the reason why we have a Homecoming weekend and why there’s an alumni parade during the football game. As much as there was high-fiving and cheering from students directed toward the few alumni navigating the crowds on Aberdeen, there were also some discouraged older faces looking on from the sidelines.

A gray-haired man in a kilt stood at the corner of William and Aberdeen streets, with a few of his fellow alumni, watching the crowd go by. A partygoer asked in a raised voice, “Are you an alumnus?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“That’s awesome; party on!” the student screamed, with a raised arm, and continued on as the alumnus turned back to stare at the street.

Not the camaraderie you would expect from some members of a university so bound in tradition.

It’s unreasonable to expect the street party to ever go away, as an archival search showed it has been a prevalent story in this newspaper for decades.

But it’s reasonable for it to become a little less angry, aggressive and destructive while becoming more welcoming.

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