Western University announced today that this year’s Homecoming has been moved to Saturday, Oct. 22 (“Homecoming Saturday”) in an effort to address a variety of concerns associated with the unsanctioned and unsupervised street party that has taken place in recent years on Homecoming weekend. Previously planned Faculty reunions, as well as the Alumni Awards of Merit and Golden Anniversary dinners will still take place as originally planned on Reunion Weekend (September 30 to October 2).
“As Western’s President and as a parent, my greatest concern is the safety of our students,” said Western President Amit Chakma. “University administration, London Police Service, Middlesex-London Emergency Medical Services, City of London officials, and hospital medical staff have held several meetings on this issue and we all share concerns this street party has escalated to such levels that more decisive action is required.”
Despite the University’s best efforts to dissuade students from attending the unsanctioned street party on Broughdale Avenue adjacent to Western’s campus, it has become an unsafe environment attracting as many as 10,000 young people. This has involved not only Western students, but many others who have no connection to Western, including bus loads from other universities, high school students, as well as individuals police have identified as having criminal histories. These kinds of parties are not unique to London and are occurring with more frequency and severity in university and college towns and cities throughout North America.
Western administrators are hopeful that the increased academic pressures in terms of assignments that are due and exam preparation that is the norm at Ontario universities in late October will not only reduce the number of Western students who attend the party, but also the number of students who come from other universities. As well, there is a better chance the weather will be less favourable for a street party in late October.
“Moving Homecoming is only one of the means by which we will be encouraging students to find safer forms of entertainment,” said Chakma. “I remain personally committed to doing everything we can as a university to build awareness of how serious the Broughdale issue has become. Western is fortunate to have the support of important community partners such as the London police and we will continue to work collaboratively to address the problem.”
The University will roll out a targeted campaign in the fall to ensure that students understand the legal and safety risks they are taking when they host or attend large parties, including possible repercussions under Western’s Code of Student Conduct as well as the dangers of binge drinking.
“London Police Service has been working closely with Western administrators and other community partners to address this issue and we support the university in its decision to move Homecoming,” said London Police Service Deputy Chief Steve Williams. “In addition to a strong police presence on Broughdale, we are all hopeful that our collective efforts in advance will help students understand the risks this party poses to themselves and their community so they will make the decision not to attend.”
For decades, Western has prided itself on providing a Homecoming experience second to none in Canada, and hopes to continue providing this to alumni into the future. In terms of plans for 2017, a full de-brief will take place in late October to determine how the University will approach Homecoming moving forward.
More details on this change are available at: www.alumni.westernu.ca/connect/homecoming/
MEDIA CONTACT: Stephen Ledgley, Senior Media Relations Officer, Western University, 519-661-2111 x85283, firstname.lastname@example.org
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