Wilfrid Laurier University, along with community services, have begun preparing for one of the biggest holidays of the year: St. Patrick’s Day.
Over 5,000 people gathered on Ezra Street last year to commemorate the holiday. Laurier’s dean of students, Leanne Holland-Brown, stressed the importance of participating with Laurier pride in mind, but the first and foremost concern of the university is student safety.
“The last few years of St. Patrick’s Day has provided the opportunity for Laurier to think really intentionally about what our values are as a university and how they are embodied during potentially challenging times such as St. Patrick’s Day,” said Holland-Brown.
St. Patrick’s Day is a shared community effort in keeping Laurier students, faculty and staff safe.
“If you look at our community partners, bylaw enforcement and Waterloo Regional Police, there’s shared commitment to safety and to organization to ultimately support student success, personal and academic,” Holland-Brown said.
The academic commitments of St. Patrick’s Day are a priority to the university as well, explained Holland-Brown.
“Classes will run throughout the day as per usual. We are not selling items at the Bookstore that links Laurier to St. Patrick’s day because we are trying to emphasize the academic priorities of that day. We don’t want to misconstrue what our priorities are in university.”
The university, however, understands those who wish to participate in the festivities of that day.
“We recognize that there are students who don’t have classes and those who wish to participate. In those cases, we want to make sure that the messages and the language really shares [the] expectations that Laurier has,” Holland-Brown said.
Safety has been a major concern regarding St. Patrick’s Day, overall due to the mass amount of individuals who celebrate the day.
“There has been a number of steps that are taken to maintain security in the buildings to ensure that in terms of the traffic flow of our buildings, it does not disrupt traffic flow that comprise the learning environment. There are regulations in place for residence in terms of guest restrictions.”
The additional steps to ensure student safety is to make the resources and information available for Laurier students. The university sent out a mass email to students. The app SafeHAWK, Laurier’s official safety app for students, has over 5,000 downloads already.
“Part of reinforcing safety is letting students know the options, letting students know the resources that are available if they find themselves in need of assistance and reinforcing what the expectations are,” Holland-Brown said.
Students who choose to participate in the festivities but do not uphold the community and respect focused values are subject to adjudication by the university using the Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct.
“[Laurier has] Policy 2.3, which is the Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct, that is always in place regardless of the time of the year and the events that are happening. That is the primary vehicle in which the school will be responding to behaviours that are in violation to the student code,” Holland-Brown said.
Holland-Brown also emphasized the community effort that takes place during the Ezra Street activities which tend to happen during the day of St. Patrick’s Day.
“We really rely on the Waterloo Regional Police and by-law enforcement regarding Ezra because it is outside the jurisdiction of the university and like any public street in the city,” Holland-Brown said.
“Waterloo Regional has determined [that] having the gathering and allowing the gathering to continue is safer and more reasonable to manage than trying to shut down that street which creates a litany of other issues.”