Aberdeen could crash & burn

With Homecoming less than two weeks away, the parties involved in keeping the weekend’s damage to a minimum are still scrambling to solidify plans to keep the weekend from escalating in the mayhem of Homecoming 2005. Tonight, city councillors vote on whether to close Aberdeen Street for next Saturday night.

Street closure legalizes the actual gathering of students on the street and blocks cars from access. If the street remains open, said Kingston resident and Queen’s alumnus Vinni Rebelo, many of the volunteers fear police-student confrontations will jeopardize their team’s safety.

Some councillors who are sitting on the fence on this issue contend that by closing the street, the city is condoning the party. But what should supersede that concern is the safety of those in and around the Ghetto, which will be threatened if police spend the night shoving partiers off the street.

Last year, the city, the University, police, residents and the AMS collaborated to prepare for Homecoming. So far this year, however, there seems to be disunity amongst these groups. The AMS in particular has offered very little insight into what precautions they’re taking for the notoriously raucous weekend, perhaps because they’re assuming that last year’s relative calm will simply repeat itself. Given the short-term memory of the student body and the mythology that has built up since Homecoming 2005, this assumption is both foolish and dangerous.

The Aberdeen Street volunteers need to work alongside the city to ensure their own safety. Volunteers last year made a vital contribution to the night’s relaxed tone by handing out plastic cups to reduce the amount of broken glass on Aberdeen Street and the surrounding area. If the street stays open and the volunteers stay clear, not only will the number of injuries from glass and debris skyrocket, but the ability of paramedics to access those in need of help will be hindered.

Those preparing for the weekend seem to have adopted a laissez-faire attitude towards the whole thing; it’s as though they’re collectively crossing their fingers that the near-riot of 2005 remains a fresh warning in the minds of the students.

Anyone observing the build up to Homecoming 2007 can see the problems next weekend will bring. We have to prepare for those problems now or else prepare for the weekend to crash and burn.

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