St. Patrick’s Day stirs controversy at Laurier

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File Photo by Jess Dik/Lead Photographer

Every year, the City of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Waterloo Regional Police work to find a way to make St. Patrick’s Day, arguably the most important day on the calendar for student safety, a pleasant experience.

Today, the National Post published an article outlining that Laurier “has authorized swift measures to purge the Irish-tinted celebration from its campus.”

St. Patrick’s Day merchandise has been banned from the Bookstore and extra security reportedly will be around campus buildings. A memo to staff said this is meant to “shift the culture” around St. Patrick’s Day.

Ezra Avenue has been home to the annual St. Patrick’s Day party for years, but in the most recent years has seen an increase in students traveling from neighbouring cities.

A tent party was introduced two years ago to limit the number of students on Ezra, however city officials realized this was bringing in more students from other universities and colleges to fill the “extra space.”

After the National Post article was circulated, Olivia Matthews, the president and CEO of the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, issued a statement clearing up any concerns about the annual celebration.

“I’m sure you’ve now read an article that’s claimed, ‘Laurier is banning St. Patrick’s Day,’ ” the statement read. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Matthews writes that she and executive director Phil Champagne sit on City of Waterloo discussions. While they “don’t always see eye to eye,” they are looking to ensure student safety on big events such as Homecoming.

“St Patrick’s Day celebrations in recent years have grown within the city of Waterloo which has caused concern for neighbours, community members, faculty and let’s not forget — even fellow students. It is the responsibility of the University [sic] to ensure your safety and it is our responsibility as the Students’ Union to offer you the best student experience inclusive of both academics and social life,” Matthews wrote.

She continues to say that she wants students to choose the “safe option.”

Wilf’s and the Turret will be opened during St. Patrick’s Day as licensed venues.

Matthews said in the statement that “green paraphernalia” is not accessible at the Bookstore because the university is focused on academics.

Mike Haffner, a spokesperson for the Waterloo Regional Police, told The Cord the police will be “firm but fair” this year. He believes it’s been a “great relationship between Laurier and WRPS” for this event.

The WRPS will continue to have a public safety unit.

More to come.

With files from Erika Ymana


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