After returning to Queen’s in 2013 following a five-year hiatus, this year’s Homecoming weekend has been deemed successful by Kingston Police (KP) from a public safety perspective.
According to an Oct. 26 KP press release, “there were no illegal street parties, no unanticipated road closures, minimal property damage and no reports of major injuries.”
“The combination of detailed planning by many organizations, officer presence, respect and responsibility by the majority of students and revelers, and even inclement weather all assisted in a weekend that resulted in expected enforcement numbers,” KP Staff Sergeant Greg Sands stated in the release.
The total number of Homecoming-related charges has increased over the past three years by roughly 20 charges each year. But Const. Steve Koopman, KP media relations officer, told The Journal that these are only minor increases compared to the statistics on arrests and charges recorded in 2007 and 2008 prior to the cancellation of Homecoming.
The Journal reported 54 Homecoming-related arrests over the weekend in 2007 and 138 arrests in 2008. Since returning to Queen’s in 2013, Homecoming-related arrests have never been over 25.
Koopman attributed some of the increase in tickets to the poor weather. Because students were less inclined to stay on the streets for long, he said, officers could prioritize law enforcement instead of maintaining order and blocking off streets.
“The fact that [street parties weren’t] occurring potentially gave the officers that ability to then go into an enforcement mode, where they’re ensuring that people are enjoying themselves but doing so responsibly but legally,” Koopman said.
Most of the charges made by officers were alcohol related — specifically, tickets for open alcohol.
According to the KP press release, the average age of persons charged over the weekend was 20 years old, the majority of whom were self-identified students of Queen’s.
Koopman added that, based on anecdotes from officers, the vast majority of students and party-goers were respectful and understood the role of police in maintaining peace and safety.
“That’s wonderful to hear,” Koopman said. “The fact that there’s a little bit of self-policing happening, and that we witness that, I think [it] speaks well to the fact that we really don’t want it to be an ‘us vs. them’ mentality.”
Koopman reiterated that KP was only one piece of the puzzle. He said the success of Homecoming was a team effort on the part of a number of community partners, including Queen’s administration, the AMS, Kingston emergency responders, KGH, Hotel Dieu, the COR and campus security.
He also gave credit to the AMS ReUnion Street Festival, which he said appears to have been “successful and popular for students, alumni and guests” and took pressure off officers patrolling Aberdeen St.
Principal Woolf also said he was pleased with the success of Homecoming weekend.
“It was, for the most part, a safe and respectful celebration of the Queen’s spirit,” he wrote in an email statement.
“The AMS’s ReUnion Street Festival was a well-attended event that provided a sanctioned venue for students and alumni to gather and celebrate. While we still saw some unsanctioned activity in the near-campus neighbourhood, particularly earlier in the day, I am hopeful that the behaviour displayed by the vast majority of our students signals a trend that will continue in the years to come.”
Like Koopman, Woolf thanked all partners involved, including KP, for ensuring that Homecoming was a safe and successful event.
Sarah Letersky, vice president (university affairs), ArtSci ’16, also thanked KP and the City of Kingston for their part in the weekend’s success. She said she wanted to acknowledge “the many dedicated students who participated in our community clean-up, which covered the entire off-campus area of the University District.”
“This past weekend, Queen’s Homecoming was a safer and more respectful celebration than it has ever been before. We’ve made great progress over the past couple of years” she wrote in an email.
Carolyn Dunk, the AMS ReUnion Street Festival Coordinator, was also very pleased with the outcome.
“Attendance substantially increased from last year and was consistent from the beginning of the event until the end of the night,” Dunk, ArtSci ’15, wrote in an email.
“We’re especially glad to have seen so many students and alumni coming together and the feedback we have received from all guests has been highly positive.”
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