Western University’s Board of Governors approved an amendment to the university’s Code of Student Conduct today in an effort to curb extreme behaviour at the Broughdale Avenue street party.
Western’s Code now applies to conduct at unsanctioned events that become associated with the university due to the nature of the event or the number of students involved. Previously, the Code could only be applied to sanctioned university events or, in some instances, where students were officially representing Western at external events.
“This change to the Code is just one of a number of initiatives aiming to put an end to this illegal party,” said Jennifer Massey, Western’s Associate Vice-President (Student Experience). “The size of these street parties presents a complex problem that requires a well-coordinated response from Western, London Police, the City and student leaders.”
Earlier this year, Western administrators met with representatives from eight other Ontario universities, who together with their community leaders, are dealing with large unsanctioned street parties.
Western reviewed amendments other universities have made to their Codes and worked with legal experts and student leaders to determine how amendments could be made to Western’s Code.
“Members of the community had advocated for changes to Western’s Code of Student Conduct and we have listened to that feedback and acted upon it,” said Massey.“We’ve had some very productive discussions with London Police and student leaders on both the amendment and our approach to exercising jurisdiction over off-campus conduct.”
The Code now reads that the university may exercise jurisdiction in cases:
“… where the conduct occurs at a program, event or activity not hosted, sanctioned, sponsored, or organized by the University that because of the nature of the program, event or activity and/or the number of students involved, might reasonably be seen to have a direct or indirect association with the University.”
In determining whether or not to exercise jurisdiction over off-campus conduct, the university will consider the seriousness of the alleged conduct, the risk of harm involved, and whether the off-campus conduct is part of a series of actions that occurred both on and off the premises.
Western Board of Governors Chair Paul Jenkins indicated that the Board was pleased to move this forward as a positive step. “We will continue to work with civic leaders and other stakeholders on a lasting solution,” he said.
Mayor Ed Holder welcomed the Code amendment. “I am pleased to see this change to Western’s Code of Student Conduct. While not the sole solution to ending this dangerous event, it is a sign that we can make progress on this when the University, University Students’ Council, the City, and Police are working in tandem,” said Mayor Holder. “I know more solutions are in the works and I expect we will see further progress in the weeks and months ahead.”
For the last six years, Western, the City of London and emergency services have shared information in the weeks leading up to the Broughdale event, which has taken place on the last Saturday in September or the first Saturday in October. This past fall, senior leaders from Western, the City, London Police Services, the London Fire Department and the University Students’ Council formed a taskforce with the goal of understanding the culture behind the event and finding effective means to deal with it.
“We are very encouraged by the change to the university’s Code of Student Conduct to include some aspects of off-campus behavior,” said Deputy Chief of Police Steve Williams. “It is not going to solve the problem alone, but it is one important component in ensuring all community members are working together towards a solution. We hope that not only students, but their parents as well, will recognize that the community’s tolerance for these disruptive and dangerous events has been exhausted.”
In 2016, Western responded to the concerns of London Police Services that the crowds partying on Broughdale for Homecoming were becoming so large that it was only a matter to time before someone was killed or permanently injured. Western moved its annual Homecoming event to later in October when students are focused on tests and exams. Regardless, large crowds have continued to gather illegally on Broughdale.
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