By: William H. A. Smith
I am writing to express my disagreement with, and disappointment of, Western’s unilateral decision to change the date of Homecoming this year and in the future.
As a graduate of Western with three degrees and a life long resident of London, I am extremely dismayed at how this was handled. Why were the alumni not allowed to express their opinions and concerns before this unilateral action was taken? It affects us as well since “Homecoming” is about bringing back the alumni to the alma mater, and usually hitting us up for money. Without alumni donations, Western could not offer students the second to none academic experience that they receive.
I grew up in the Broughdale area and my family still owns a property there (since 1925). Western’s Homecoming tradition is the best in Canada and rivals many top American universities. It is a tradition that other schools are envious of. It is not like the riots that happened at Queen's a decade ago. It is an opportunity for the students to show their “Western spirit” and 99 per cent of them show it in a lawful way.
By moving the date it conflicts with exams, essay and project due dates (as was stated by a university official on the CTV London news). You will be interfering with and may in fact be inhibiting the opportunity of many students to partake in Homecoming festivities. Students want to partake in Homecoming but your actions will add to the pressures already on students, which you acknowledge are severe enough by giving them a fall study break.
President Chakma states that “more decisive action is required” to put an end to the “unsanctioned and unsupervised” street party at an off-campus location. Why does the students' off-campus behaviour require such action and control by the University?
Why does the “senior administrative team” assume the authority to decide what is in the students' best interests and try to control their off-campus activities? Is it not the mission of the University to graduate students who can decide what is in their own best interests and be responsible for their own actions? What does this action by the “senior administrative” team say about the ability of Western to meet this obligation?
If students choose to party at an off-campus location then why does the University assume it is necessary to regulate such behaviour? Is it not the responsibility of the London Police Service to ensure that order is kept and laws are upheld? They do a fine job on St. Patrick’s Day, which the students at Western have turned into a holiday for themselves (good for them I say).
I fear that your actions have done a disservice to Western and its students. I wonder how the students will react. Hopefully it does not blow up in your face and be yet another stain on the reputation of the University as recent events have been.
William H. A. Smith is a Western alumnus, BA'83 (Honours Political Science), LLB'98, B Ed.'04.
Related Community post: Dear Western, your students are not your enemy.