St. F.X. Home­com­ing break­down by RCMP

Bet­ter num­bers when it comes to in­ci­dents but still work to be done

The Casket - - Front Page - RICHARD MACKEN­ZIE richard­mac@the­cas­ket.ca

It didn’t ap­pear like the on-cam­pus stu­dent party played much of a role in the stats, but the num­bers recorded by the RCMP for this year’s St. F.X. Home­com­ing Week­end were bet­ter than last year.

“Over­all, from my per­spec­tive, it was bet­ter than the pre­vi­ous year; it was def­i­nitely a step in the right di­rec­tion,” Sgt. War­ren Mcbeath, from the Antigo­nish RCMP de­tach­ment, said.

“For us, if you get down to the ac­tual num­bers of peo­ple we dealt with and is­sued fines to, all those kinds of things, this year we is­sued 27 tick­ets un­der the Liquor Con­trol Act. The vast ma­jor­ity were for open liquor in pub­lic, the other ones would be pub­lic in­tox­i­ca­tion and un­der­age drink­ing; 27 of those this week­end com­pared to 54 last year.

“Other tick­ets, mostly un­der the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Acts and things like that; we had 15 this year, 24 last year. And then peo­ple we had in our cells, we had to bring in to sober up, we had 16 this year, we had 17 last year.”

Mcbeath ac­knowl­edged those re­sults are “not per­fect”.

“There is still a lot of room for im­prove­ment,’ he said.

“There was a lot of foot traf­fic and peo­ple in town, at var­i­ous dif­fer­ent house par­ties,” he said. “We in­ter­vened at a lot of them be­fore they got out of hand and dis­persed them.”

He added, when that was the case, at least those they dealt with were “re­spect­ful.”

“The peo­ple we dealt with, some alumni but mostly stu­dents, were very co­op­er­a­tive, re­spect­ful; we didn’t have any prob­lems or push­back … any at­ti­tude from them, by and large,” he said.

“I think credit for that; there was a lot of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the uni­ver­sity and the town, prop­erty own­ers and stu­dents, of what the ex­pec­ta­tions

were for the week­end and what be­hav­iours were go­ing to be tol­er­ated and what weren’t. And when we showed up some­where, [they knew] what the ex­pected re­sponse would be.

“That went a long way in mak­ing it a rel­a­tively safe week­end.”

Mcbeath noted RCMP did as­sist EHS with two in­juries; both in­volv­ing stu­dents at house par­ties.

“One fel­low was on a roof and fall or jumped onto the bal­cony a story be­low and broke his an­kle. And an­other lady fall off a deck onto the ground and she re­quired some stitches. In the grand scheme of things, not se­ri­ous life-threat­en­ing in­juries; none­the­less, if some­one had fell on their head that could have been a lot of trou­ble.

“That was one of the perime­ters we had; if we saw any­body on a roof we in­ter­vened im­me­di­ately and, if it was a source of a party, the party was shut-down and dis­persed and that was the end of it. We had a few of those, peo­ple on the roofs.”

Mcbeath said the busiest times were as an­tic­i­pated – be­tween 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – and they had “four times the amount of staff I nor­mally have.”

“I had 12 cars on Satur­day… 13 peo­ple in 12 ve­hi­cles,” he said.

“Pre­vi­ous years we would have a cou­ple of of­fi­cers on bi­cy­cle pa­trol and on cam­pus; we stayed com­pletely off the cam­pus this year, they [St. F.X.] had that cov­ered. They had their se­cu­rity peo­ple and res­i­dence staff and they’re all trained in first aid and know, if they see some­one in trou­ble, who to call.

“So we didn’t need to be there, that’s a du­pli­ca­tion of ser­vices, so we dis­persed all of our units into the town and just kept go­ing around, try­ing to keep an eye on every­where and when some lo­ca­tions started to get rowdy or out-of-hand, we broke them up be­fore we got calls about it … that was the eas­i­est way to do it.

“By and large, it was def­i­nitely an im­prove­ment over the pre­vi­ous year, so some­thing to build on.”

Uni­ver­sity re­ac­tion

St. F.X. Pres­i­dent Kent Mac­don­ald also noted the im­prove­ment from last year and that there is still work to be done.

“I’m not sure if we are ever go­ing to get a per­fect Home­com­ing Week­end; but I’m not quite sure how to even de­fine that when there are thou­sands of peo­ple com­ing to our lit­tle town,” he said. “But I do know, from my ob­ser­va­tion and the brief­ings I re­ceived from my staff on Mon­day morn­ing and from the RCMP, all in­di­cated this was a bet­ter Home­com­ing for St. F.X. and Antigo­nish; that is mea­sured by the num­ber of in­ci­dents we have and they dropped dra­mat­i­cally.

“It wasn’t per­fect and we’ve al­ready started our de­brief­ing on how to make Home­com­ing even bet­ter next year.”

He talked about the on-cam­pus party, not­ing there was “some stu­dent turnout.”

“It didn’t work out on the scale we had hoped, so what do we need to think about in terms of it be­ing dif­fer­ent,” he said.

“The time? The lo­ca­tion? The event it­self ? Are there bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion things we could have done? One of the ideas is we should have had our house pres­i­dents more in­volved. These are all good pieces of feed­back for us to con­tinue to move for­ward to have a bet­ter Home­com­ing Week­end.

“If we’re too afraid to try new things, we are never go­ing to im­prove,” he said, adding he is ap­pre­cia­tive of the time fac­ulty and staff put into the event, as well as co­op­er­a­tion with com­mu­nity part­ners such as the Town of Antigo­nish and the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the County of Antigo­nish.

“I want to give real credit to Mayor Lau­rie Boucher and War­den Owen Mccar­ron for want­ing to work along­side the uni­ver­sity to say this is in the best in­ter­ests of ev­ery­one to bring a lit­tle bit more struc­ture to Home­com­ing,” he said. “To pro­vide al­ter­na­tive ac­tiv­i­ties for our stu­dents and guests and, fun­da­men­tally, make sure it’s safer.

“Along with Lau­rie and Owen, we had tremen­dous in­put from the prop­erty own­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion, voices from the hos­pi­tal come and meet with us, and I can’t say enough about the pos­i­tive ap­proach from the RCMP. They were all just ter­rific in look­ing at the big­ger pic­ture of, how do we make sure ev­ery­one is safe?”

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