Halifax Regional Police had a busy night breaking up a massive downtown street party, after a flood of complaints came from neighbours in a residential street near Dalhousie University.
Social media posts show crowds of young people on Jennings Street on Saturday evening. At one house, a large banner hung from a balcony read ‘Relax we are double vaxxd (sic).’
In a release, police said officers found thousands of people partying in the street.
Officers ended up arresting 10 men and one woman for public intoxication. Numerous tickets were also issued for illegal possession of open liquor.
Police said they are continuing to investigate the incident and expect to hand out even more tickets.
In a memo sent to the entire university on Sunday, Dalhousie’s president and vice-chancellor, Deep Saini, said the school was “gravely disappointed in the deplorable, reckless behaviour of students.”
He went on to write that students made “unacceptable” choices despite “clear instructions from Dalhousie and our community partners about both the significant risk and consequences for these actions.”
“With first aid and arrests reported, you put strain on first responders already at capacity due to the current pandemic,” he wrote.
“You put your safety and the safety of our shared community at risk, and you damaged the reputation of the majority of your fellow students who are doing their best to safely and successfully continue their studies this fall.”
The memo said the school would be pursuing disciplinary action under their code of student conduct.
Saini pointed out the code can be applied to off-campus situations if municipal, provincial or federal laws are violated — or if there is concern about the safety of students or the community.
“These illegal, unsanctioned gatherings meet both criteria and so, where appropriate, Dalhousie will apply its Code of Student Conduct to the greatest extent possible,” he wrote.
Sanctions can include mandatory training, probation, suspension and expulsion from the university.
Problem in years past
A neighbour told Global News officers came around to homes in the area on Friday to say that a party was being planned on social media. The neighbour said the area has many families and seniors, alongside students, and the so-called homecoming parties have been a problem every September.
In previous years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, homecoming weekend parties on the street have resulted in arrests and neighbourhood meetings between residents and the university.
In response, Dalhousie chipped in to fund additional police patrols and launched a “multi-initiative plan.”
Coun. Waye Mason said Sunday that Dalhousie University needs to pay for more security in the area, and added that the school’s policy of not allowing alcohol on campus at residences may actually be fueling more partying off-campus.
“The phrase I keep hearing is dry campus and wet neighbourhood,” Mason said.
“It doesn’t end the partying, it just pushes the problem out into the community, away from where there’s residence assistants and the university can help monitor, educate and control it.”
In an email to Global News, a Dalhousie University spokesperson said the school had sent a memo to students on Friday letting students know the school was “aware that large unsanctioned parties were being planned off campus in the coming days.”
“We reminded students that we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with rising case numbers, and large student gatherings on or off campus pose a significant risk to our community, to our neighbours and to each other,” wrote Janet Bryson.
Nova Scotia is currently in Phase 4 of its COVID-19 reopening plan, and the gathering limit outdoors for an “informal social gathering” is 50 people without masks and social distancing.
— with files from The Canadian Press and Jesse Thomas