Lack of sanctioned events sends students to the streets

Community members express concerns about Queen’s Homecoming events

Image by: Curtis Heinzl
Homecoming festivities are two weeks away, taking place Oct. 20 to 22.

With Homecoming quickly approaching, concerns are surfacing about the lack of sanctioned events.

Queen’s Homecoming is set to take place from Oct. 20 to 22. The University anticipates welcoming back over 2,000 alumni, with special events planned for those who graduated in years ending in three and eight.

Many of the approved events being hosted by the University are exclusive to alumni, forcing students to find their own ways to celebrate.

In the past, students have attended large unsanctioned street parties in Kingston’s University District.

“I don’t personally think [the large street parties] are a good look for the school,” Sarah Witiuk, ArtSci ’13, said in an interview with The Journal.

Witiuk is concerned by the lack of sanctioned events available for students. The University previously stated they don’t condone any of the unsanctioned partying occurring during Homecoming, but refuses to host events where current students and alumni can come together in a safe environment, Witiuk claimed.

“Official events organized by the University will include open houses, faculty receptions, varsity sporting events, and special receptions for alumni returning to campus and celebrating certain milestone reunions, such as the Tricolour Guard Reception and Dinner—for alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago,” the Queen’s Alumni Association website said.

Other than the annual Homecoming Football Game taking place on Oct. 21 at Richardson Stadium, there are few festive Homecoming alternatives to street parties for students.

Student safety is one of Witiuk’s biggest concerns when it comes to Homecoming.

Witiuk fears the lack of sanctioned events available to students, especially at night, and the lack of crowd control, will expose students to harmful situations which could easily be prevented.

At last years ‘Fauxcoming,’ Kingston Police reported multiple injuries sustained by students. Frontenac Paramedics responded to reports throughout the day, which include an individual who injured themselves after falling off a roof in the University District.

Later in the night, Kingston Police responded to reports of a collision between a pedestrian and a motor vehicle in the University District. The pedestrian was taken to Kingston General Hospital (KGH) with serious injuries.

The AMS is preparing to protect students during Homecoming. Although the AMS doesn’t host events as an alternative to street parties, they encourage students to act responsibly.

“The AMS doesn’t condone any of the unsanctioned partying that occurs around Homecoming—the choice to participate in that is one that students have to make on their own,” AMS Campus Affairs Commissioner Callum Fraser wrote in a statement to The Journal.

The AMS is taking an educational stance towards Homecoming, informing students of the physical, financial, and legal risks of participating in Homecoming parties.

The AMS intends to continue their Harm Reduction initiative in partnership with the Campus Observation Room (COR) and Queen’s First Aid (QFA) to promote student safety.

“Like other years, the commission, in collaboration with the Commission of External Affairs, is organizing out harm reduction initiative to help curb the physical ailments associated with the ‘unsanctioned’ events that occur surrounding the homecoming celebrations, with some potential updates and new elements that have the goal of minimizing risk before it becomes a problem,” Fraser added.

The AMS’s primary harm reduction initiatives aim to mitigate illness and incapacitation associated with excessive alcohol consumption by providing an area for students participating in festivities to rest and hydrate.

“This portion of the initiative will take place at midday on the 21st of October outside of the Queen’s Centre, when the AMS will be present to distribute drinks and prepackaged food at no additional charge,” Fraser said.

The AMS is looking to host an additional event in the days leading up to Homecoming weekend as a way to promote harm reduction efforts and inform students of their legal rights. However, the AMS is awaiting confirmation from their campus partners.

The University didn’t respond to The Journal’s request for comment on sanctioned Homecoming events for students. The University didn’t comment on The Journal’s questions related to ensuring students’ safety.

With Homecoming two weeks away, a representative for the University told The Journal information would be available at a later date.

“If [the University] wants to manage students’ behaviour, then they need to provide them with events,” Witiuk said.


Events, harm reduction, Hoco, Homecoming

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  • At Homecoming some years ago, a free night concert was staged on Union Street near Division Street. Not sure if it was paid for by the University or by the AMS. City Council closed off that stretch of Union Street for the event. It drew some people away from Aberdeen Street, but Aberdeen still had huge crowds.

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