‘It just won’t be the same’: Students prepare for an unusual Homecoming

AMS, City of Kingston urge students to stay home as pandemic continues 

Kingston Police will continue to enforce limits on gatherings over Homecoming weekend.

Queen’s students are preparing for a quieter, COVID-conscious Homecoming weekend this year.

While students might normally have taken to the streets to celebrate, Homecoming is happening entirely online this year on Oct. 17. The University has planned virtual events for alumni and is encouraging students to stay home and follow the COVID-19 Public Health guidelines. 

Sam Peca-Goodale, ArtSci ’23, told The Journal he has “no plans” to attend any large gatherings, whether at someone’s house or in the streets.

“I think I might stay in for a bit, hang out with the guys at the house, wear some tricolour […] then maybe see a couple friends that I’ve maintained inside of my social bubble,” he said. “We’re gonna keep things small, and we’re gonna stay safe.”

Peca-Goodale said without the traditional Homecoming events, Homecoming will look “a lot different this year.”

“I don’t really think it’s possible to have the same experience as you would on a normal year. Obviously there’s no big events, there’s no parade, there’s no football game, there’s really nothing that makes Homecoming Homecoming.”

“The community is the most important aspect of Homecoming,” he added. “Yeah, we’ll still get together maybe in smaller numbers, but it just won’t be the same."

READ MORE: ‘[T]he fate of Fall 2021 & Winter 2022 lies in [the students’] hands’

Stephanie Cachia, ArtSci ’23, told The Journal she has a couple of friends coming up for Homecoming, but they aren’t expecting “too much.”

“I don’t have any plans currently,” she said. “I haven’t heard of much going on so I don’t know if we’ll be seeing other people.” 

She said she expects Homecoming to be smaller and less social this year, given COVID-19.

“It’s unfortunate that we can’t have as many people,” she said. “It’s probably not gonna be as fun, but you gotta do the best you can.”

Kingston Police will continue to enforce the current Ontario limits on social gatherings throughout Homecoming weekend, with a capacity of 25 people outside and 10 people inside. Those who host gatherings which violate these guidelines will receive a minimum $10,000 fine and a court summons.

Kingston City Council passed a measure Aug. 11 allowing Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMP) to be used to enforce the Nuisance Party Bylaw and the Noise Bylaw, due to the increased risks large gatherings pose during the pandemic.

The City’s University District Safety Initiative (UDSI), originally launched in 2018 to curb the intensity of street partying, will also be in effect from Oct. 16-19.

READ MORE: Kingston Police called to 40-person party in University District

The AMS is currently running a proactive safety campaign to encourage students to stay home for Homecoming and adhere to the gathering limits. 

“A sense of togetherness is important now more than ever: we hope you all choose to prioritize community safety while showing your Queen’s spirit,” Alexia Henriques, AMS vice-president (university affairs), wrote in a statement to The Journal.

“We still want students to have fun and celebrate this day, however this year things are different since celebrations must take place at home and online. We hope our peers choose to stay home this Homecoming!” 

According to the University’s COVID-19 tracker, Queen’s has seen 23 cases of COVID-19 since the start of term.

The University didn’t respond to The Journal’s request for comment. 

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