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Western University ‘disappointed’ by FOCO celebrations

Thousands pack the street along Broughdale Ave., just past Audrey Ave. to celebrate fake homecoming. .
Thousands pack the street along Broughdale Ave., just past Audrey Ave. to celebrate fake homecoming. . 980 CFPL

Western University says it’s “disappointed” by a massive party that drew an estimated 20,000 people to Broughdale Avenue at one time Saturday.

“This illegal gathering is dangerous for those who attend and extremely disrespectful to the people of London,” read a statement from the school’s associate vice-president of student experience, Jennifer Massey.

“It endangers the entire community by straining the resources of our police, fire department, emergency medical services (EMS) and hospitals — not to mention damaging property in the immediate area.”

READ MORE: 20,000 people, 134 charges, 57 hospitalized: emergency officials detail 2018 FoCo stats

The statement goes on to say the behaviour is “incongruent” with the university’s values and refers to what students call Fake Homecoming or FOCO as a “street party.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the London Police Service held a media conference about the event.

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London police Chief John Pare didn’t mince his words when it came to the issue of curbing the chaos, saying all stakeholders “including Western students and administration” had a role to play and that no agency would be able to solve the issue on their own.

“Just because it is occurring in an off-campus neighbourhood, does not absolve [Western University administration] of responsibility in addressing this behaviour,” he said.

READ MORE: Dozens help recreate ‘Broughdale Grandma’s’ garden, trampled during FOCO party

Policing costs alone are expected to run to more than $100,000. By the end of the festivities, 57 people had been taken to hospital, 134 provincial offence notices were laid, more than 3,100 warnings were handed out.

Western’s statement said the administration agrees with Pare’s assessment that there isn’t a simple solution, noting that similar parties are posing problems in other cities across Canada and the United States. Western said it’s contacting those dealing with the same issue to share findings and best practices.

“We are committed to changing the culture that leads to this unsanctioned street party,” Western’s statement said.

To try to reduce the crowded streets and partying, Western University moved its sanctioned homecoming event three years ago to later in the fall and closer to students’ midterm exams.

Communications officials turned down 980 CFPL’s interview requests.