Thousands of McMaster University students gathered on Dalewood Avenue for the university’s now traditional “homecoming” bash.

As in years past, there was plenty of public intoxication, urination, and stupid behaviour.

This year can add criminal behaviour with a car flipped, as well, violating COVID regulations.

There is no dispute there must be consequences for unlawful conduct.

Those consequences need to be handed out by the police and City of Hamilton by-law officers.

McMaster can attempt to discipline the students who appear in social media clips engaged in particularly egregious behaviour. The unsanctioned event directly ties itself to the university and is not some random gathering which happens to have McMaster students present – it exists because McMaster students make it happen.

Nonetheless, even if the university sought to deal with this, it has limited investigative powers.

Hamilton police have the investigative powers and resources to attempt to identify those involved in flipping the car.

McMaster succeeded in rebranding its homecoming into a major event with ads stating “don’t miss out on the biggest party of the year” in 2017.

The university knowingly opened a Pandora’s Box.

McMaster students created the Dalewood gathering. It is now an annual unsanctioned event, drawing revellers from far and wide, and the event will continue annually for the foreseeable future.

In a tweet, Ward 1 Hamilton City Councillor Maureen Wilson is calling for McMaster to “own this annual community debacle” and for the City to “send them the bill for all policing, paramedic & clean up costs. Mac President – get your house in order & stop trashing ours.”

During my time working for Maclean’s, I covered similar unsanctioned parties in the “student ghettos” of London and Kingston. These have an energy of their own, drawing large crowds of both students and non-students.

Beyond a draconian police presence, options for stopping this event are limited. The unofficial frat houses will continue being vocal points for these gatherings. The sheer number of people will overwhelm any enforcement.

Law enforcement on its own will not solve this annual problem.

The university can create sanctioned on-campus events. Even if it does, the crowds who partake in these street parties will not change their habits. These unsanctioned “homecoming” parties will continue.

Pandora’s box is open.

“Student ghettos” create the conditions for unruly “homecomings”.

The only possible solution is reversing the studentification of Westdale and Ainslie-Wood by McMaster building significant student residence spaces to house its student body, but McMaster does not want more mortgage debt on its books.

5 replies on “COLEMAN: McMaster Rebranded Homecoming Into A Party It Cannot Control”

  1. There is another solution: encourage a more dispersed student population along the King-Main corridor which is well served by buses and will be well served by the LRT. Guelph, as an example, has a *very* dispersed student population because everyone takes the bus, and the bus was free before the University expanded.

    Students don’t live downtown in Hamilton until 3rd or 4th year (if at all) due to negative perceptions. If you can reverse those conceptions students will seek housing further from the campus.

  2. This event was nothing more than a COVID super spreader event. Sanctioned by the powers that be at Mac. I saw first hand the drunk and out of control kids. Draconian measures should be taken for draconian behaviour that endangers all of us that have been home for well over a year. Mac and the idiots in sports that thought this was ok should be held legally and financially responsible for all the extra police etc.

  3. Fine everyone they can identify, ban any student involved in damages caused for 1 year from any university or College. They lose any tuition fees already paid for the year. There needs to be consequences.

  4. We had a street brawl on our front lawn and a break in next store. City of Hamilton and McMaster need to stop finger pointing and figure this out!!!

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