We are gravely disappointed in the deplorable, reckless behaviour of students who organized and attended large, unsanctioned and illegal street parties near campus yesterday. While we are grateful to the majority of our students who heeded the clear warnings that were shared about this behaviour, there were many who still ignored these warnings, and we are working very hard to ensure appropriate consequences will follow.
For more than 200 years, Dalhousie University has lived in concert with our Halifax community. Our ability to teach, learn, research and operate in this city is founded and sustained by the goodwill of our community. In recent years, that goodwill has been strained by these large, unsanctioned street parties near campus. That behaviour continued yesterday, with the most alarming behaviour occurring last night — despite clear instructions from Dalhousie and our community partners about both the significant risks and consequences for these actions.
The choices these students are making are unacceptable. Those of you who attended these parties did so in violation of pandemic gathering limits under the current Provincial State of Emergency. Many of you showed complete disregard for the surrounding neighbourhood and for laws and bylaws around noise, open alcohol and public intoxication. With first aid and arrests reported, you put strain on first responders already at capacity due to the current pandemic. You put your safety and the safety of our shared community at risk, and you damaged the reputation of the majority of your fellow students who are doing their best to safely and successfully continue their studies this fall.
Our community is disappointed and frustrated — and has every right to be. These are reckless, dangerous and disruptive gatherings. No one should be made to feel unsafe in their own home. To our neighbours: we share your frustration. You are owed an apology from these students. As the university whose name and colours have been co-opted to justify these gatherings, we are also sorry for the actions of these students and their impact on you and the community at large.
We are grateful for the support of our community partners, including Halifax Regional Police (HRP), Halifax Regional Municipality and Emergency Health Services (EHS),who helped prepare in anticipation of these events and worked to maintain order and keep people safe to the best of their abilities. Dalhousie supported this shared effort in many ways, including offering alternative programming for students, meeting with students and neighbours ahead of the weekend to set expectations, and providing financial support to help fund the increased HRP and EHS presence required yesterday. Our hope is that this work helped limit the potential harms of yesterday’s events, including harms to those who chose to attend. Unfortunately, our collective efforts to manage this serious situation were not sufficient to prevent it from happening. New approaches are needed and we are committed to pursuing them together with our community partners.
We will be pursuing disciplinary action under our Code of Student Conduct. We made clear to students last week that those who partake in these activities risked being sanctioned by Dalhousie through the university’s Code of Student Conduct. The Code can be applied to off-campus situations if a violation of municipal, provincial or federal laws results in a material negative impact to the university community, or in situations which raise concern for the safety or well-being of students or the university community more broadly. These illegal, unsanctioned gatherings meet both criteria and so, where appropriate, Dalhousie will apply its Code of Student Conduct to the greatest extent possible. Sanctions that may be imposed by the Senate Discipline Committee upon finding that a student has violated the Code range from mandatory training and education or probation for a designated period of time, through to denial of specified privileges or suspension/expulsion from the university.
Dalhousie is committed to being a good neighbour and our expectation is that our students are as well. Many of our students are meeting this expectation, but far too many are not. We stand with our peer universities working to address street parties as they become a complex and growing problem across North American university campuses. We have more work to do and will continue to work with our partners to meet these expectations. Additional updates will follow.
President and Vice-Chancellor
Provost and Vice-President Academic
Vice-Provost Student Affairs (Acting)
Dalhousie University is located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq. We are all Treaty people.