The tradition of holding homecoming weekends gathers thousands of partiers together at universities across the country year after year. But the massive amount of people at these events weigh heavily on the police and emergency services of university towns.
By giving $100,000 to the Kingston Police to help alleviate the costs of its Homecoming weekend festivities, Queen’s is among the first to take steps to ease this strain on city resources. Even though this is a good first step, more needs to be done if the destructive drinking culture that surrounds Homecoming is to be changed.
Even though the money to the police is a good first step, there are other places that universities can allocate their resources. Having emergency rooms stuffed with students and an increased amount of ambulances called to the University District are a significant drain to the city’s resources.
One proposal to deter partiers from getting out of hand is to increase fines for public drinking and intoxication within university districts. However, the problem with this approach is that it addresses the problem after the damage has been done.
Instead of focusing on setting an example through punishment — such as increasing fines — police and the University need to focus on educating students on the impact that unsanctioned street parties and other drinking-related offenses can have.
Many aren’t aware that streets like Johnson are used as emergency routes to Kingston’s downtown core and Kingston General Hospital. When partiers flood the streets and prevent cars from moving, they’re not only endangering themselves, they also can potentially create dire consequences for someone in need of help from the city’s emergency services.
Students care about others just like any other group of people. Increasing punishment during Homecoming without making an effort to reach students beforehand is coming at the problem from the same unproductive perspective.
While celebrating Homecoming, we can’t forget that Kingston isn’t just home to Queen’s students; it’s home to hundreds of thousands of residents that need emergency services just as much as students do.
Students and police need to work together to create lasting change to the Homecoming tradition. When students are made aware of the real consequences of their actions for others, they’re more likely to be inclined to change their behaviour.
— Journal Editorial Board
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