Mayor Brown wants Western to step up efforts to solve its street party problem
University spokesperson says the school 'needs more approaches' to stop dangerous street parties
London Mayor Matt Brown says Western University administration could do more to curb the unsanctioned, off-campus student street party that for the second straight year, packed Broughdale Avenue and overwhelmed police and other emergency services.
"I don't believe this is hyperbole: The fact of the matter is someone is going to die if we don't do things differently," said Brown Thursday after raising the issue at a Police Services Board meeting.
"Western administration needs to play a more active, and a more pro-active role, working with other community partners ... to deal with this moving forward."
Thousands of students packed Broughdale Avenue — a small, dead-end residential street near campus — in a Sept. 29 street party. The bash overwhelmed emergency services and for the second straight year, a student went to hospital with serious injuries after falling or jumping from a roof.
Two years ago, Western moved official homecoming to October in a bid to cut down on street partying. Students responded by hosting their own party, which has come to be known as "fake homecoming" or FOCO.
Now the party is growing in popularity and drawing in students from outside of London. Last year's estimated attendance was 11,000. This year, it jumped to 20,000.
Brown praised Western's University Students Council for trying to draw students away from Broughdale this year by holding Purple Fest, a sanctioned, on-campus music festival.
"They showed a willingness to try something new and to make a significant investment to try and turn the page on what we've seen with this massive annual party," said Brown.
Jennifer Massey, Western's associate vice-president of student experience, acknowledged the Broughdale party has become dangerous but said the university is working on "additional strategies" to deal with it. She also said Western officials met "a number of times" with police, fire and paramedic officials in the lead up to September's party.
"We all recognize this is an incredibly serious situation," said Massey. "We acknowledge there is a real risk to the safety of our students and others that are attending that event. Western continues to be eager to be part of the solution. We need more approaches to curtail the problem."
Massey said she met this week with officials from other universities, where dealing with street parties was one of the agenda items.
"We're all trying to share ideas, we know different campuses are trying different solutions," said Massey. "We [shared] what's working and what isn't working."