Queen’s HOCO is more than a party

Re-evaluating our relationship with Queen’s Homecoming in the wake of COVID-19

Day drinking on Aberdeen doesn’t have to be the only HOCO experience.
Photo: 

Homecoming (HOCO) is, first and foremost, a football game. But for many Queen’s students, the HOCO experience is a big party.

If you day drink, wear Queen’s tricolour merchandise, attend massive street parties, and take a mandatory mid-afternoon nap, you’ve experienced the quintessential HOCO.

Queen’s HOCO tends to serve as the blueprint for the best homecoming experience among Canadian universities.

Western celebrates FOCO, a “fake homecoming,” where the same day drinking and partying ensues. An important aspect of Queen’s HOCO lies in our pride for being superior to Western’s less exciting FOCO. The banners and t-shirts sporting the phrase “Wuck Festern” seen around the University District are perfect examples of this attitude.

While Queen’s students will usually jump at any opportunity to day drink, I choose to believe this school spirit, with a sprinkle of chauvinism mixed in, is the key driver behind the festivities and debauchery on homecoming. Although, I’m not exactly sure why Queen’s school spirit comes in the form of a Jell-O shot on HOCO.

Historically, Queen’s HOCO tends to fall immediately before or after the peak of midterm season. A day dedicated to letting loose is certainly welcome for students coming off weeks spent in Stauffer Library staring at their computer screen.

There’s nothing wrong with letting off steam and appreciating the rowdy side of attending Queen’s, but that attitude doesn’t seem to encompass what HOCO culture actually is. 

The recent violations of COVID-19 gathering limits have revealed that partying is the most popular expression of homecoming. This past weekend, thousands of drunk Queen’s students swarmed Aberdeen Street and Victoria Park in massive groups. Despite the Kingston Police’s efforts to thwart the crowds with physical barricades and nuisance fines worth thousands, the street parties persisted.

These unsafe gatherings were disappointing and overwhelming for many people, students and members of the Kingston community alike.

HOCO is so much more than a massive Aberdeen party. It’s time we remember that.

If you’re not into drinking, remember that the day is just an opportunity to celebrate your Queen’s school spirit. In years ahead, consider attending the football game, making tricolour pancakes, or participating in virtual homecoming events.

If you chose to engage in this upcoming weekend’s unofficial “HOCO part two,” please do so safely and drink responsibly—consider pairing up with a buddy for the day to keep tabs on each other and be sure to abide by Kingston’s COVID-19 restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings.

You can still express school spirit without choosing to engage in the “traditional” HOCO activities. You can wear your favourite Queen’s sweatshirt and sing the Oil Thigh with pride any day of the year.

The most heartwarming proof that HOCO is an important continuation of a long tradition of Queen’s pride are the hundreds of alumni in leather jackets who return to campus each year to be with very same people they celebrated homecoming with years ago. We should respect and prioritize this facet of the tradition.

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.