Laurier plans safety precautions for homecoming

Photo fo a Laurier flag with a crowd visible in the foregrond.
Photo fo a Laurier flag with a crowd visible in the foregrond.
Photo by Darien Funk

On Saturday, Sept. 24, Wilfrid Laurier University students attempting to celebrate homecoming weekend with day-drinking and partying in the streets, were restricted by law enforcement.

With COVID-19 hindering the festivities of homecoming weekend for the past two years, this year’s Homecoming was in full-swing, and included a football game, welcoming back alumni, and a concert featuring Steven Page, headliner of the Barenaked Ladies.

Not only was it a big deal for students who anticipated the party to resemble previous years of thousands of people gathered at Ezra Avenue, it was also a big deal for the university, by-law and emergency responders, as the concern for students’ safety and well-being was their top priority.

“It was my first homecoming, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew there was a lot of concern. We’ve had as many as 20,000 to 30,000 students that have gathered in town. Wesaw what happened during the opening weekend of the university season,” Ivan Joseph, Vice-President of Student Affairs exclaimed.

Unlike previous years, more safety measures were implemented this year to prevent large gatherings in the streets from materializing.

“We cordoned off [Ezra Avenue], where students like to gather, and increased our special constable unit and police presence. [Additionally], we hired security guards and locked down public access to buildings, and instituted a no guest policy––all things to try and to keep our student community safe,” he said.

The increased amount of surveillance and support was a crucial step towards protecting students and the community.

“The health and safety of our students and neighboring community, as well as being good citizens and community members, is a priority,” Joseph said.

The extra restrictions and safety measures resulted in less destruction to the streets and homes surrounding campus, and by-law charged fewer people with alcohol and noise related violations.

“You know, the intent is to not to say, ‘students don’t party.’ We’re not going to wag a finger at you. It’s “be responsible, don’t gather and shut down streets, party safely––look out for each other”,” Joseph said.

Going forward, WLU will evaluate the effectiveness of adding these safety precautions and restrictions.

“We’re going to take a moment and assess and evaluate the things that we did this past weekend that went well, where we missed it, and what we can do to improve. Our next big challenge will be Saint Patrick’s Day, so we’ll reevaluate, reassess, and apply the lessons learned here to that effect,” Joseph explained.

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