Unsanctioned Homecoming events put students and our community at risk says McMaster president
McMaster students, and any others who chose to be part of the gathering of several thousand people in our community on Saturday, owe our neighbours, our emergency workers and every other student an apology for the disruptions, disrespect of property and disregard of those who live in our community. On their behalf, I apologize for this behaviour, particularly by those who caused damage and put anyone at risk. Such actions are completely unacceptable.
McMaster will be cooperating fully with Hamilton Police and supporting their work to identify those who participated in any illegal activities. We will use the Student Code of Conduct to sanction students who violated the Code’s tenets of behaviour.
“Fake Homecoming” events have become all too common at universities across the province. These events are promoted and encouraged by people who hide behind the privacy of social media without any consideration for students or others who might be injured, or for the neighbourhoods that suffer the noise, garbage, property damage and disruptions. They have no regard for the police or emergency personnel who have to respond. And in this time of COVID, they chose to ignore the laws in place to prevent large gatherings and help keep our communities safe and healthy.
They may not care, but we do.
McMaster had chosen not to have any Homecoming events this year connected with the first home football game of the season. This was a prudent and safe decision.
The University worked proactively with police and city by-law officers in advance of this weekend. McMaster doubled the usual number of off-duty officers it hired to assist with policing work in the neighbourhoods. The McMaster Students Union worked collaboratively with the University to communicate with students ahead of Saturday, reminding them of the potential consequences for illegal behaviour and the importance of being thoughtful neighbours. The vast majority of our students chose not to be part of the gathering, but those who did, and especially those who chose to be reckless and destructive, put themselves and others at risk. Their actions leave the impression that all students behave this way, which is neither true nor fair.
McMaster has a long tradition of being part of our community and of working closely with our neighbours. The President’s Advisory Committee on Community Relations has brought together the university, our neighbours, students, police, our local councillor, bylaw and other community partners for more than 25 years. I will be asking it to help us identify any additional actions that can be taken in future.
We thank the police and other emergency workers for their diligent and thoughtful response. We will continue to work with them to keep our community safe.
President and Vice-Chancellor, McMaster University