Preparing Laurier for St. Patrick’s Day

File Photo by Heather Davidson
File Photo by Heather Davidson

The date had been circled since the previous year.

Alana Russell, corporate communications for Waterloo Regional Police Service and her team have been hard at work preparing for the incoming staple on the Wilfrid Laurier University social calendar — St. Patrick Day 2016.

According to Russell, the Waterloo Police started preparing for the next St. Patrick’s Day as soon as the previous year’s event finished.

“We determine in what, if there’s anything we can change, what we would improve, how it’s going to roll out next year. Of course with it being closer to the actual date, we are well within our preparation and we have an operational plan in place that we believe will prove effective in managing the event,” she said.

This year’s installment of St. Patrick’s Day won’t feature the tent party — which was introduced two years ago — however there are various other options students can partake in. Anne Anderson, a community pastor, is hosting an alternative dry event at the Seminary called the ‘Shamrock Café’ for the second year.

“It’s just a way that people can do something special, that can be with their friends but not have to worry about safety or security or excess drinking, those kind of things that they might feel uneasy about … there’s not that here, it’s just a fun alternative,” said Anderson.

Wilf’s will be open during regular hours to serve participants and the Turret Nightclub will be open during the evening. Students will have options for activities available for St. Patrick’s Day if they decide to partake, or if they decide to attend class.

And of course, Ezra Avenue waits quietly.

Russell said the amount of officers patrolling Ezra on St. Patrick’s Day will fluctuate — no set number has been decided.

“We don’t have a specific number. Our numbers depend on how many people are within that area, usually we’ll see more crowds later in the afternoon and then it tapers off around dinner time and then it picks up again for the evening hours,” Russell said.

Olivia Matthews, Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union president, said the university is preparing students for St. Patrick’s Day through constant communication.

Students can also expect a message on MyLearningSpace from Leanne Holland Brown, the dean of students, a letter from Max Blouw, Laurier president and social media posts with “Stay Golden” videos from Matthews and the Students’ Union.

In total, the university partners plans to broadcast 17 messages to students.

“I think the biggest thing that the Students’ Union helps with is communication with students around safety,” Matthews said.

“On that day we’re going to do some gendered violence messaging, we’re going to do some safe alcohol consumption messaging. But we do know that those issues tend to be heightened during the day of St. Patrick’s Day.”

Matthews also said various members of the Students’ Union, by-law officers, the department of athletics and recreation, WRPS and emergency medical technicians are partaking in a door knocker campaign where they will go around the neighbourhood and side streets, engaging with students and educating them about safety and showing respect.

The Emergency Response Team will be working with Special Constable Services throughout the day and Foot Patrol will also be available from 6:30 p.m. until 4:00 a.m.*

The university has also hired more security officers and will be working with Waterloo Police and Special Constables to make sure the day goes smoothly.

But it’s not just about staying safe while partying. One of the biggest concerns for Matthews is the increased instances of robberies during the day.

“Lock your doors on that day,” she said.

“Residence students don’t realize that. Students on Ezra don’t recognize that. But if there’s that many people around, and there’s that many guests around, then that’s concerning to us.”

With the priority on safety, Matthews has been working with internal and external committees of the university to ensure a safe experience for students, regardless of whether they decide to partake in St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

“We’re just going to involve working with the university and working with the city to keep students safe,” she said.

*Correction: this article originally had Foot Patrol’s operating hours listed incorrectly. 

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