Weekend events under debate

Second Fauxcoming will decide fate of Queen’s defunct tradition

118 arrests were made over last year’s Fauxcoming weekend.
118 arrests were made over last year’s Fauxcoming weekend.
Journal File Photo
AMS Vice-President (University Affairs), Chris Rudnicki says homecoming won’t be reinstated in 2011 if attendance at Aberdeen St. doesn’t decrease drastically.
AMS Vice-President (University Affairs), Chris Rudnicki says homecoming won’t be reinstated in 2011 if attendance at Aberdeen St. doesn’t decrease drastically.
Journal File Photo

A party on Aberdeen St. tomorrow will hold significant implications for coming years.

AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Chris Rudnicki said student behaviour this weekend must improve drastically compared to last year if the current AMS government is going to keep its election platform promise of reinstating Homecoming next year.

“[Principal Woolf] is looking at making a decision by the end of this calendar year,” Rudnicki said, adding that the AMS has had several meetings with Woolf to discuss the potential of reinstating the cancelled tradition.

“If we act in the same way we have in previous years, we don’t get Homecoming back.”

A Facebook group titled “Homecoming 2010” boasted 5,150 confirmed guests at time of print last night.

“If students are thinking that any street party will go undetected by police, they’re mistaken,” Rudnicki said.

Last year 118 arrests were made over the Sept. 26 Fauxcoming weekend. Forty per cent of arrests made were of Queen’s students. Approximately 2,000 people flocked to Aberdeen St.

Kingston Police spent over $300,000 on policing the weekend’s festivities with around 400 officers, including a riot-squad and mounted units from the Ontario Provincial Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and surrounding local departments.

City officials and Kingston Police refused to comment on a June 18 Whig-Standard report that quoted Chief Stephen Tanner saying Kingston police planned to surpass last year’s presence in the student ghetto this weekend.

Police deferred enquiries from the Journal to City of Kingston marketing and communications that issued a three paragraph statement and declined to elaborate further.

“As with any other weekend throughout the year, police, fire and bylaw staff will act on behalf of the city and its residents and respond in a manner that is appropriate to the situation,” Cindie Ashton, communication officer at the City of Kingston, told the Journal.

“Senior city officials have continued to work jointly with Queen’s University administrators and officers of the Alma Mater Society towards long-term solutions to issues in the student residential neighbourhood. All municipal, provincial and federal laws apply.”

Susan Charlesworth, senior review council with Queen’s Legal Aid, said the best way to stay out of trouble this weekend is to avoid police-saturated areas, like Aberdeen St.

“If you’re going past the area, potentially you could be in trouble,” she said.“Whether or not there’s an argument [to contest the charge] doesn’t stop them from arresting a person.” Charlesworth said she would advise anyone charged or arrested to exercise their right to remain silent.

“Once you’re arrested you can’t help yourself by saying something. You can only cause damage,” she said. “It can be that tensions are pretty high and police are worried about things getting out of control. They can interpret more things as resisting arrest and in a different situation they might not. Things can escalate really quickly, especially when people are drunk.”

Charlesworth said keg parties are one of Queen’s Legal Aid’s focuses this year. The organization will distribute a pamphlet advising potential hosts.

Fines for the illegal sale of alcohol at a keg party can reach a multi-thousand dollar level for hosts.

She said it is also illegal to purchase alcohol from a person without a liquor licence.

“They seize the kegs as well, then you can’t return them and get your deposit back,” Charlesworth said, adding that Queen’s Legal Aid will represent any student charged with a criminal offence or major provincial fine.

They started offering this service even before official Homecoming events were cancelled from 2007 until 2011 by former Principal Tom Williams. Public safety risks posed by the Aberdeen Street party and the damage the event had on Queen’s national reputation were listed as factors influencing the decision.

Hilary Windrem, AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner, said students need to realize that the street party led to the Principal’s decision to cancel Homecoming and student participation in it will ensure the entire remains cancelled.

“Presence at any street party contradicts what students are saying about reinstating Homecoming,” she said.

Harold Hemberger is trying to facilitate a discussion between students and permanent Kingston residents on fabled University traditions like Homecoming and Frosh Week.

He put out a call for letters from students on his website this summer. He hasn’t recieved any.

“I’m trying to get the involved parties to talk,” the Portmouth district candidate said.

Hemberger said tensions between students and Kingston residents surrounding the weekend can be relieved if both sides were more empathetic.

“One thing students should be doing is fast forwarding themselves 15 years to when you have a family,” he said.

Even though the University has cancelled Homecoming weekend, they’re still making certain preparations for the festivities on campus.

Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Roxy Dennison-Stewart, said Queen’s will allow police to use Dupuis Hall as a staging and lunch break area over the weekend. Police occupied Dupuis during last year’s Fauxcoming weekend as well.

“Our stance would be that, like last year, there will be no organized safety efforts by Queen’s or the AMS on Aberdeen or any other off-campus street,” Dennison-Stewart said “If there is any gathering, we expect Kingston Police to respond ... We were encouraged last year by smaller crowds and the student’s good judgment to stay away.”

Arig Girgrah, assistant dean of student affairs said Residence Life will operate as if an official Homecoming was taking place this weekend.

“This is one of those times ... when we see more students, alumni and friends on campus,” Girgrah told the Journal via e-mail. “Non-residents are not permitted to enter any residence building and no off-campus guests are allowed over the weekend.”

Girgrah said these measures do not mean Queen’s condones illegal street parties.

“Residence Life recognizes that the University has not planned Homecoming activities for this fall,” she said. “Residence Life student and professional staff encourage first year residents to ... make healthy, safe and responsible choices at all time during the year.”

ArtSci ’14 Abdi Musse said he’s planning on attending Aberdeen tomorrow night.

He said he hasn’t heard any warnings about the unauthorized street party.

“I know there’s been issues in the past,” he said. “That’s where my understanding ends. [My don] very well may have talked about [Aberdeen] but I wasn’t there.”

-With files from Rachel Kuper and Tyler Ball

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