There will be no homecoming celebrations at Queen’s for at least another three years. The annual party was initially canceled for 2009 and 2010 after years of rowdy street partying, and sometimes rioting, on the part of thousands of intoxicated people, mostly connected to Queen’s, resulting in dozens of arrests, damaged property and angry Kingston residents.
Despite the cancellation, between 1,500 and 2,000 people still congregated on Aberdeen street in September, and 95 people were arrested and 225 charges were laid. In the past the celebrations have seen as many as 8,000 people flood the street, and in 2005 a car was burned and beer bottles were thrown at police.
Queen’s principal Daniel Woolf announced today that the return of homecoming will be further delayed, with a review to take place in late 2013. “I remain concerned that if the University’s homecoming is reinstated next fall, not enough time will have passed to truly break the cycle,” he said. “The Chief of Police has said more time is needed and there remains a high risk to student, alumni and city resident safety.”
Woolf added that the “negative national media coverage” of the street parties has threatened the university’s reputation and overshadowed the accomplishments of its students and alumni. “The vast majority of Queen’s students are responsible and civic-minded and contribute positively to the life of this community and the university,” he said.
A statement from the university included comments from student president Safiah Chowdhury who supports the decision but wants to see homecoming return. “As students who love the opportunity to engage with alumni and as future alumni of Queen’s, we are committed to ensuring that Fall Homecoming returns,” she said.
When homecoming celebrations are reinstated, Woolf said that it would move from September to October to coincide with the last home football game of the year, and when the weather will be cooler. It has only been in recent years that the event was hosted in September. “It is significant that the Aberdeen street party problem coincides with an earlier move from October into late September,” he said.