How Laurier plans to combat street parties and unsanctioned gatherings during COVID-19

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On Sept. 28, 700 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Ontario, a single-day record for the province.

With the number of cases continuing to rise, Wilfrid Laurier University has emphasized the importance of ensuring that students continue to follow public health protocol, especially now that many have returned to the region. 

This year, Laurier’s Homecoming occurred from Sept. 24 to 27 and was celebrated virtually, featuring speaker sessions, an eSports tournament and virtual trivia among other activities.  

An email sent on Sept. 24 to undergraduate students, on behalf of Maureen Mancuso, interim vice-president: student affairs, urged students to be mindful of the provincial guidelines. 

“The Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Waterloo has declared we are now in Wave 2 of the coronavirus pandemic,” the email read. 

“As leaders of tomorrow, now is the time for you to exercise the good judgement we know you have, to put the greater welfare of the community first, and to model […] that Golden Hawks know how to balance enthusiasm and pride with discretion and consideration for others.”

The email also mentioned that the school would be prepared to employ sanctions under the Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct, including suspension, as required, if any students were found to be transgressing the social-distancing guidelines. 

These statements follow the news that more than 100 students were charged for attending a house party on Hickory St W. in early September. 

“Wilfrid Laurier University’s top priority is to keep people safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” read the email statement sent by Graham Mitchell, director of communications and issues management, on behalf of Wilfrid Laurier University. 

“We want to remind everyone we are still in the midst of an extraordinary global health crisis. We are counting on our students to do their part by avoiding gatherings, including house parties, and following public health guidelines,” the statement read. “We have been working closely with our partners in public health, municipal government, and the police to manage any unsafe activity.” 

The statement also made mention of the ways that the school will be combating large student parties and gatherings.

“With cases across the province and in the region on the rise, the province has lowered the limits on social gatherings and introduced tough new fines for people who exceed gathering restrictions. The City of Waterloo has introduced a noise bylaw that allows for additional enforcement against parties over the Homecoming weekend.” 

“In addition, students will be held accountable under the Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct if they break the provincial rules around gathering and knowingly come to campus,” the statement concluded. 

Following Homecoming weekend, laurier president and vice-chancellor Deborah MacLatchy sent an email to students, thanking them for avoiding large gatherings. 

“Thank you for staying golden this Homecoming weekend. You made the right choice to not engage in unsanctioned street parties or violate public health guidelines regarding large gatherings. Your restraint and sense of civic responsibility will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” the email read. 

“COVID-19 is the challenge of a generation. We all need to work together to manage this next wave and protect our communities. I have tremendous confidence that we can continue to count on you and the entire Laurier community to do your part to Stay Golden,” the email concluded. 

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