Students from across Ontario flock to Kingston

Aberdeen Street party has become a ‘province-wide event’

As was the case last year, students living in residence can’t have out-of-town guests over Homecoming weekend.
As was the case last year, students living in residence can’t have out-of-town guests over Homecoming weekend.
Credit: 
Brian Yau

Rob Duffy makes no bones about it. He comes to Queen’s Homecoming for the party.

A fifth-year English student from the University of Toronto, Duffy said it’s the desire to be part of something exciting that draws the crowd.

“I think it’s the legend of it, the fact that’s it’s become so important,” he said. “It’s the biggest party of the year. It’s something you want to be a part of.”

While it’s safe to say most hotel rooms in the city will be filled with alumni, there will be at least a few homes in the Ghetto full beyond capacity this weekend. And not with former Queen’s students.

This will be Duffy’s second appearance at Queen’s Homecoming weekend. He’s staying with friends.

He said he plans to arrive this afternoon, but expects the festivities to begin tomorrow morning with the traditional pancake kegger.

He said Saturday night will be the highlight of the weekend. Though most of the weekend is clearly geared toward Queen’s students and alumni, Duffy said, the party on Aberdeen Street has become relevant to students across Ontario.

“To be honest, I think I met more students from out of town than Queen’s students at Queen’s Homecoming.”

He said the large number of out-of-town students changes the feel of the night.

“I think it transforms the party from being just a Queen’s thing to being a sort of province-wide event.”

Duffy said he doesn’t know how Queen’s students feel about the event’s growth but said his views would differ were he a member of the University.

“I think I might feel worse about it if it was my own school, in my neighbourhood where I was trying to live peacefully,” he said. “I think I’d feel much more negative about it if it were in my own backyard.”

But as long as he’s responsible, he said, he doesn’t feel obligated to stay away.

“By going, I’m just there to have a good time,” he said. “I’m not going to be doing anything wrong and I’m pretty certain of that so I can go with a clean conscience.”

Andrew Mills, a Queen’s alumnus living in Victoria, B.C., will be staying in a Best Western Hotel when he arrives today for Homecoming weekend. He booked six months in advance and that hotel was all that was available. But he doesn’t mind.

“I don’t really go for the big parties,” he said. “I go to see my buddies who I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Thousands of students will flood Aberdeen Street tomorrow night and a large number of them will have no ties to Queen’s apart from the couch they crash on for the night.

When he was a student, said Mills, Rehab ’05, he noticed the large number of non-Queen’s students in Kingston for Homecoming weekend.

“I definitely met more people from other schools than I met alumni from Queen’s.”

He said students who come from outside Queen’s never completely grasp the meaning of Homecoming weekend—to reconnect with old classmates and to help foster a link between current students and alumni.

“I’m not in favour of all those students coming all over the province for the party,” he said. “There’s not a lot of accountability there. … It should be Queen’s students meeting Queen’s alumni and having sort of a spirit-building event, not a destroy-everything-and-flip-over-cars.”

But he said he doesn’t know how it can be prevented.

“Aside from not having Homecoming, I don’t know if there’s a way around that.”

Mills spent a year living on the infamous thoroughfare. He said there was a lot of pressure to live up to the Aberdeen stereotype—a stereotype that contributes to the attitude of out-of-towners.

“They come to party and say they were there, go with the mob mentality and see what happens.”

Kevin Laughren, Comm ’08, said Queen’s student can’t pass on the blame for the wild event on other students from around the province.

“I’m under the impression that a lot of the out-of-towner rumours are just an exercise in finding a scapegoat,” he said. “Some of the rowdiest behaviour I’ve seen is from Queen’s students.”

Laughren said there have been out-of-town guests in his house for the past three years and he said alcohol and crowd size are a much greater factor in student behaviour than place of origin.

“They show no more disrespect as they would in their home towns were they equally inebriated and around that big a crowd.” He also doesn’t believe there are more out-of-towners on the street than Queen’s students.

“[It’s] not even close to half and half,” he said.

He estimated about one in four students on Aberdeen Street is from out of town.

Laughren said the argument really breaks down when you look at the history of the Aberdeen street party.

“It’s not really rooted in any kind of tradition,” he said. “It’s not something that’s been going on for years at Queen’s.”

He said the disconnect between the purpose of Homecoming and the Aberdeen Street party means Queen’s students’ investment in the principle of Homecoming doesn’t play a role in their attitude toward the street party.

He said Queen’s students don’t understand what it means to “come home” any more than out-of-towners do.

“To say that it’s a Homecoming event for [Queen’s students] is also meaningless.”

Students in residence will be required to follow the same rules implemented last year, which prohibited guests from outside Queen’s residences.

Students are permitted one guest from another residence building per day and are required to sign them in each day. Beginning Friday afternoon, all students will be required to show keys and student ID cards at the front entrance of their buildings.

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