Due to the events that occurred on St. Patrick’s Day last year, Brock University had a number of proactive and reactive measures put in place which were carried out last week and into the weekend.
“I do not think that anyone was happy with the events that occurred on Jacobson Avenue last St. Patrick’s day and it certainly signaled to us that we need to keep working to help our students understand that it is important to have a safe St. Patrick’s day and certainly we understand that is part of the student experience but we also need to make sure that they are respectful of local neighborhoods,” said Bradley Clarke, Director of Student Life & Community Experience.
After last year’s events Brock’s President began discussing initiatives for 2018 with the mayors of St Catharines and Thorold as well as other community partners including the Niagara Regional Police and Fire Services. Over the last six months there was further collaboration between the Department of Residence, Off Campus Living Neighborhood Relations, Student wellness and Accessibility Centre, Brock University Students’ Union and Campus Security.
“It’s really important for us that our students [who choose to party] are doing so safely and doing so respectfully of our community partners,” said Clarke. In order to ensure that this happened the following measures were put in place:
Letter from the President:
On March 13 a letter from Brock’s President and Vice-Chancellor Gervan Fearon, went out to all students. The letter urged students to be respectful of neighbours within the community during their St. Patrick’s Day festivities. It also informed students of measures that were being put in place.
These measures included Campus Security patrolling off campus areas and the potential for infractions being judged based on the Student Code of Conduct. Dr. Fearon finished the letter by reminding students that pictures on social media last forever.
Engaging with students on and off campus
Throughout last week students were provided with a wealth of information about safe drinking practices, by laws, consent, drinking and driving and the consequences of their actions. The information was provided to students at information tables in Market Hall, in residence events, through social media, and in some cases, through door to door visits.
Off-campus areas that have been notorious in the past for wreaking havoc on the surrounding neighborhoods were paid a visit on Thursday afternoon. The goal of these initiatives was to ensure that all students had the information they needed to make informed and safe choices.
“Don’t Put the Bad in Badger” Poster Campaign
Along with the information sessions posters were also distributed throughout campus that informed students of fines they could receive for acting irresponsibly on St. Patrick’s Day.
Increased Police Presence
Brock in collaboration with Niagara Regional Police, organized for additional police officers to be placed both on and off campus. They also got permission for Campus Security to patrol local neighborhoods.
According to Clarke it was “not meant to be punitive in nature, it is meant to identify any issues as they are occurring and look to minimize them to escalating to scenarios where they could be disruptive”
St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations at Isaac’s Bar and Grill
“BUSU acknowledges that St. Patrick’s Day is a day where students are likely to be out drinking and we want to ensure that we take all the steps in order to ensure student health and safety,” said Maddy Wassink, Vice-President Student Services of Brock University’s Students’ Union (BUSU). To encourage students to come on campus, where it would be easier to ensure everyone stayed safe and acted responsibly, BUSU arranged for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration to be held at Isaac’s Bar and Grill from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To ensure that students didn’t drink on an empty stomach, they offered free breakfast from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Throughout the afternoon, free pizza and Gatorade was provided for students. There were also activities throughout the day at the bar.
There was also a rejuvenation station help in Captain John’s lounge from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Students stopped by to get free pizza, water, chips and other snacks. They were also able to play games while they were there.
Post St. Patrick’s Day Cleanup
As an additional initiative BUSU recruited volunteers to go around St. Catharines and Thorold on Sunday morning to make sure that students obeyed bylaws and cleaned up their lawns.
Evidently, all of Brock’s efforts paid off. While there were still hundreds of students who celebrated, the events of last St. Patrick’s Day did not repeat themselves.
The police presence was stronger this year which helped to control the students. There have been some reports of tickets being issued and a few arrests made but no details are available.
At Brock, most students were at Issac’s during the day, which allowed for easier control. At night many party goers ventured to Village Residence, but Dons were on rounds all night so nothing could get too out of hand.
Overall, this year was more controlled than last year, but some St. Catharines residents were still not impressed, leaving something to work on for next year.