Sunday, September 27, 2009

University encouraged by reduced level of rowdiness after homecoming cancelled

KINGSTON, Ont. — Queen's University students and officials say reduced levels of rowdiness in Kingston, Ont. this weekend is a positive step toward reinstating the cancelled homecoming festivities.

The university announced last November that traditional fall homecoming celebrations would be cancelled for at least two years due to safety concerns.

Still, thousands of students gathered to drink this weekend and police arrested more than 60 people, mostly for being drunk and disorderly or breaching the peace.

But police said the number of arrests was lower than in previous years.

Police also responded to incidents including rowdy keg parties, assaulting a police officer, indecent acts, a vandalized car, a break and enter, and a report of kids throwing tree branches onto a bus.

But police say careful planning, a high police presence and some rain helped prevent student parties from spilling into the streets Saturday night, as they had in previous years.

Last year, an estimated 8,000 people jammed the street, and officers made nearly 140 arrests.

Twenty-five Queen's students were charged with illegally selling alcohol at parties last year and police seized the equivalent of 135 cases of beer, while hospital emergency rooms overflowed with grossly intoxicated party goers.

Police said although some intoxicated people were taken to hospital this year, there were no serious injuries reported.

Patrick Deane, Vice-Principal Academic at Queen's said the crowds appeared to be more in control than previous years.

"It's encouraging that the number of people who came out was considerably less than in past years and so were the issues police faced."

Michael Ceci, President and CEO of the Queen's Alma Mater Society, said he believes many students got the message about being safe.

"We hope this positive trend is continued into next year so at the end of the year we can have a discussion about how to reinstate (homecoming)."

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