Dalhousie University taking steps to avoid homecoming repeat

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Dalhousie braces for homecoming weekend
WATCH: Homecoming at Dalhousie University got a bit out of control last year. And as Silas Brown reports, the university is taking steps to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself – Sep 26, 2018

Dalhousie University is hoping to keep student and alumni revelers in check during homecoming weekend with a “multi-initiative plan.”

University spokesperson Brian Ledbetter says with more on-campus events and additional resources from the Halifax Regional Police, the surrounding community should be spared from the sort of raucous parties like one that took over Jennings Street last year.

“We did see that that was a gap in programming last year, where we will be encouraging students to be on the university property and celebrating at the Black and Gold event in the afternoon.”

WATCH: Halifax residents reach ‘breaking point’ after homecoming arrests

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Halifax residents reach ‘breaking point’ after homecoming arrests

The Black and Gold event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature a performance from the Mellotones as well as some food trucks.

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The university came under fire last year after a large off-campus homecoming party spilled into Jennings Street. Twenty-two students were arrested and those living in the surrounding community expressed their frustration at a public meeting held in the weeks after.

“My two sons came to my wife and told them that someone was in our driveway … but then when we looked out, it was two girls doing (cocaine) in our driveway,” Jan-Mark van der Leest said at the meeting.

“I became frightened for the safety of myself, my neighbours, and for the students themselves,” said a woman in attendance.

READ MORE: Dalhousie Student Union’s Orientation Week focusing on alcohol-free fun

This year Dalhousie is chipping in to fund additional police patrols in the surrounding area to clamp down on any parties before they get out of control.

“We are putting some high visibility resources in the area so that, again, we can hopefully try and prevent anything before it happens,” said Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Const. John MacLeod.

Dalhousie student Vanessa Parker says that she thinks the extra events on campus will help keep things in check.

“I think people just want to get involved and last year it seemed like that street party was kinda the only thing that was going on so I think if there’s other stuff students will definitely want to get involved in other ways,” she said.

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Parker added that she thinks there’s an added element of risk for those who do get out of hand this weekend.

“I don’t think it will get as crazy [as last year] just because I know they’re kind of cracking down this year and there’s definitely more risk involved this year with the emails they’ve been sending out,” he said.

WATCH: Dalhousie University hosts meeting on disastrous homecoming party

Click to play video: 'Dalhousie University hosts meeting on disastrous homecoming party'
Dalhousie University hosts meeting on disastrous homecoming party

Leadbetter said that contacting students with expectations of acceptable behavior is another plank of the “multi-initiative plan.”

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“We’ve also done quite a bit around education and information initiatives with students as well to, again, encourage them to be respectful of the community, to ensure that they’re aware of harm reduction strategies and to be safe as they celebrate,” Leadbetter said.

Parker added that the chaotic party last year was a bad look for students at the university.

“I think it looks bad, especially because there’s a lot of families around the area, so it’s a little bit challenging for the school to throw those types of event. I know at other universities they don’t have that, they just have the student section, so it’s not really a big deal. At Queens … they just close the street off and that’s what it is.”

Homecoming begins on Thursday, but the true test of the university’s efforts will come this weekend.

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