A large crowd of roughly 8,000 people gathered near Queen’s University earlier this month for an unsanctioned homecoming (Hoco) party, lasting from October 16 to October 18. Dozens of police from the Kingston Police Service issued $2,000 tickets to those attending and hosting parties.
As of this month, Ontario is in Stage 3 of the reopening plan, where people can gather outdoors with a maximum capacity of 100 individuals. The gathering of 8,000 students far exceeds the limit, clearly violating Covid-19 health protocols. Queen’s University has stated that students who were partying have caused a massive influx of injuries and a chaotic mess in neighbouring areas.
Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s University, released a statement prior to the event that stated Homecoming 2021 would be “entirely virtual” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have made the difficult decision to cease any preparations for an in-person event this fall due to concerns arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. Homecoming 2021 will be entirely virtual.” The decision was made in collaboration with healthcare partners and the City of Kingston.
Additionally, Kingston police sent out a warning before the party took place targeted at those who planned on attending the unsanctioned homecoming, stating the following: “Kingston Police want any organizers or participants to be aware that anyone partaking in a gathering in excess of 100 people outdoors will each receive a $2,000 Administrative Monetary Penalty (AMP) under the City of Kingston’s aggravated nuisance party bylaw.”
Regardless, students gathered for this event, leading to about 150 fines and three charges being laid by police.
In the chaotic partying, Kingston police officers blocked off the Aberdeen Street and William Street area to control the crowding. A police officer suffered a minor injury from students who were throwing projectiles such as beer bottles or beer cans at the officers. The officer was sent to Kingston General Hospital for treatment.
In addition, there were several misogynistic signs spotted on the external walls of student housing properties. Signs, spray-painted on white bedsheets, have been circulating on social media publicizing sexual violence against women, stating phrases such as, “Lockdown your daughters” and “Western guys wish they were Pfizer so they can get inside her.” The crude jokes about women, sex, and Covid-19 vaccines have contributed to the ‘rape culture’ that seems to be trending among Ontario universities today.
Queen’s University further addressed the actions of their students by stating, “these actions will be actively pursued under our Student Code of Conduct.” The university did not specify the consequences that the students who hung those misogynistic signs will face.
The aftermath of the in-person homecoming party has resulted in damage to property, injuries, and an intense clean-up among the residents and other neighbourhoods. Queen’s University posted the actions that they will be taking on their school website, including “assessing the damage” to the campus and “student volunteers to clean up.”
Popular YouTube influencer Jack Denmo hosted yet another party on October 23 at the campus. Denmo referred to this event as “fake-Hoco.” This prospect raises issues on whether events like these will continue to occur throughout the year placing hundreds of individuals at risk.