All appears quiet heading into Saturday's official Homecoming, and London police are already looking to next year.
At a London Police Services Board meeting on Oct. 19, London Police Service said it's prepared for an official Homecoming turnout that is similar to "Fake Homecoming." However, it's unknown how many students will be making their way back to Broughdale Avenue this Saturday. Unlike this year's FOCO, there doesn't appear to be much buzz on social media, and last year's turnout for official Homecoming was small.
Vanessa Rocchese, third-year health sciences student, said that she will not be attending official Homecoming festivities this weekend.
“Homecoming’s never been a big thing for me,” said Rocchese. “I have midterms all this week, so I’ll just be studying and catching up.”
Omer Syed, second-year business student, and his friends did not realize that Western’s official Homecoming was this weekend and have no current plans. Like Rocchese, they all expressed that they have been busy studying this week, with a business exam scheduled for this Saturday morning.
Looking to next year, deputy chief of operations Daryl Longworth said that LPS will continue to work on an effective dialogue with the university administration, students and London community.
“We’ve always had a very good relationship with student council with these types of events,” said Longworth. “I can honestly say this year was a different relationship — they were not as collaborative as they were in the past.”
At the board meeting, Longworth recapped "Fake Homecoming's" impact on the London community. Longworth reported the unsanctioned street parties on Broughdale cost LPS a total of $55,000 in resources. The Saturday, Sep. 30. festivities also resulted in 50 provincial offences, 11 arrests and 964 issued warnings.
“Our main concern that day was public safety,” stated Longworth. “We were dealing with a crowd of 11,000 people … we were significantly outnumbered that day.”
According to Longworth, LPS is working on potential solutions and consulting with other communities to develop preventative strategies. Longworth said that the current resources required for Western's Homecoming and fake Homecoming events are not financially sustainable for the London community in the long-term.
“We have to recognize that this is an extremely complex problem,” explained Matt Brown, mayor of London. “This is not only a police issue, but a community issue. It’s going to require all of us to come to the table.”
According to Jana Cernavskis, University Students' Council communications officer, the USC has partnered with Western Athletics and Western Alumni for student programming during this Saturday’s official Homecoming event. Cernavskis said that there will be a tailgate party from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with student band performances. In addition to a raffle contest for one year of free tuition, she added that at the football game they will be giving away free toques and $5 food vouchers to the first 700 students.