I knew I wanted to write something about homecoming, but as I sit down to write this I’m a little bit stuck on what to say. A lot has already been said, and from the practical perspective (policing measures, university collaboration etc.) I don’t really have anything new to add. So I figured I’d throw out my own homecoming experience (which was absolutely FANTASTIC), to remind everybody there’s more to homecoming than what happens on Broughdale.
My homecoming was a 16 hour day and I’m not afraid to say that there was alcohol involved, just not in ridiculous amounts and never consumed on the street. My morning was spent on campus; what the USC organized was great and I they need to continue to build upon it to get more students on campus for homecoming. The pancake breakfast could turn into a barbecue, bring more musicians up on stage…there’s so much that could be done with that event and I encourage the USC to continue to explore and experiment with the possibilities. It will take time to get the homecoming culture off the (literal) street, but I do believe students will be receptive to this if presented with the right alternatives.
After lunch and a purple beer at the Spoke, I had fun at the football game, where Western just defines ‘go big or go home’. I mean, we have a horse at our football games, a horse! My sister is an alumni of U of T so I took extra joy in watching their defeat. Walking home through the Broughdale area things were quiet and while I was honestly embarrassed to see the mess, I did have a little chuckle at the 6 cross-armed, tough looking cops standing at the start of the infamous, now empty Broughdale Avenue. A quick stop at a house party confirmed that it’s not my idea of fun, and I left as soon as I could.
My evening started at a friend’s place, and soon migrated to downtown. There was a large but not unreasonable police presence, and I personally never saw anybody causing trouble. I think closing Richmond in the Richmond Row area is a smart move for the safety of all, and something else that has potential for positive celebration. Small street festival anybody? Music? Food trucks? (Oh wait, I forgot I was back in London). But you get the point. The street usually gets closed anyways, so why don’t we make the most of it? Yes it was busy but there was a fantastic vibe; nobody was looking to cause trouble, we were just wanted to have a good time and celebrate our fantastic school. I very rarely go to bars but if I had nights like that more often then I sure would!
I guess you can make the argument that the people on the street in Broughdale were also just wanted to have a good time and weren’t necessarily looking to cause trouble. That’s certainly a case where we need to find a better balance, but Broughdale is just one street of one big city that’s home to one big university. Please remember that most were celebrating like me, in respectful and safe ways, if they even celebrated at all.
I love my school, and I can honestly say that coming here was one of the best decisions I ever made. I never seriously considered attending until I visited for an open house, but I left knowing deep down that it was the place for me. My final student homecoming is one that I will always remember, and I can guarantee that I’ll be back as a very proud alumni.
Western is an amazing institution, one that we are incredibly lucky to have in this city. Homecoming is a celebration of this school and what it has done for the thousands over the years who have trudged up UC hill, braved the geese, spent hours in our libraries, survived London’s crazy winters, and who have gone on to make this city, this country, and this world a better place because of what they learned and who they became during their time at Western.
To be honest, I don’t have a perfect solution to the homecoming problem. But I do know that whatever way we do address this problem will need to involve collaboration, understanding, and celebrating each other’s strengths. Let’s celebrate with Western, because Western deserves to be celebrated. It’s possible, I know it is, so let’s keep working towards a real solution instead of a polarizing, band-aid “fix”.