McMaster University attempts to discourage students from partaking in any homecoming festivities
On Oct. 1, Hamilton Police Services went through the Westdale area with a letter addressed to McMaster students from the Student Support and Case Management department.
“As we head into the weekend and the excitement of our first home football game of the season, we would like to remind you to keep safety, respect and your neighbours top of mind. This is especially important given this time of a global pandemic when there is heightened anxiety resulting from unsafe gatherings,” stated the letter.
Homecoming parties are not a new occurrence at McMaster University. In 2019, the Silhouette reported on a “fake homecoming” which occurred as a result of McMaster University moving the homecoming match to the end of reading week. FOCO was attended by an estimated 2000 students filling the street of Dalewood Ave. While HPS gave out tickets at this event, no arrests were made.
This year, the Marauders are set to play their first game at Ron Joyce Stadium against the Western Mustangs on Oct. 2, 2021. Historically homecoming has taken place on the day of this match. It is expected that this will continue regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is corroborated by users on the McMaster sub-Reddit claiming that the street party will once again be returning.
“To safeguard the community, McMaster will be ramping up its security presence on campus and in the surrounding neighbourhoods this weekend. Hamilton police will be watching for any unsanctioned and large-scale parties in the area,” stated the SSCM letter.
On Sept. 17, HPS released a statement indicating that there would be an increased police presence as it was suspected homecoming parties would begin on that weekend due to the Marauders’ football season commencing at Western University.
Queen’s University, University of Guelph and Western University have appeared in the news recently due to large street parties resulting in thousands of dollars in property damages.
At time of publication, Hamilton Police Services have taped off a lawn on Dalewood Ave. in preparation for homecoming. HPS mounted units can also be seen patrolling the Westdale area. Similar reactions by the Hamilton community to homecoming have occurred in pre-pandemic years.
According to the letter delivered to student-homes, McMaster Security Services will be working closely with HPS to monitor the area for large gatherings of students, both on and off campus, that break both provincial and municipal COVID-19 by-laws. SSCM also cited the McMaster Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities, specifically with regards to the health and wellbeing of McMaster community members. If students are found to be in violation of the Code, academic repercussions may occur, such as suspension or expulsion from McMaster University.
“As a reminder, anyone found in violation of bylaws and laws – by hosting large gatherings for example — could be subject to charges, fines and possible sanctions under McMaster’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities . . . If violated, the Code allows for a range of sanctions up to and including suspension and expulsion,” stated the SSCM letter.
Students who live on near where the party is set to occur have expressed their concerns, largely due to COVID-19.
“I think [the homecoming street party] is very dangerous, for not only the students, but the community surrounding McMaster. You don’t know who is vaccinated and who’s not. Even if you are vaccinated, you can still carry it and transmit it, so it’s very dangerous with that many people. You know with people our age, they likely won’t be wearing masks which makes it even more unsafe,” said fifth-year earth and environmental science student, Andrew Smith.
Another student and Dalewood resident, who was granted anonymity by the Silhouette Editorial Board due to her proximity to the street party, echoed Smith’s concerns.
“Regardless of COVID, big gatherings can cause lots of damage and put people at risk. Add COVID into the mix and you know stuff is going to happen and things are going to spread. People won’t be distancing if everyone is crowded into such a small street,” said a second-year engineering student who resides on Dalewood Ave.
This is a developing story.