Students fined, community outreach planned after Dalhousie street party

Dalhousie University is holding a meeting Tuesday night to hear concerns from people who live along the streets where thousands of students partied Saturday during the school's homecoming celebrations.

Halifax police say they arrested 23 students after homecoming celebrations spilled into streets

People are shown in a screengrab from a video of a Dalhousie homecoming party over the weekend. One bash in a residential neighbourhood was attended by an estimated 1,500 people. (Ross Andersen/Canadian Press)

Halifax police have fined two students for alcohol-related infractions but don't anticipate any criminal charges following massive off-campus parties that spilled into residential streets around Dalhousie University over the weekend. 

Between 1,500 and 2,000 people attended homecoming celebrations at houses on Jennings, Preston, Chestnut and Larch streets on Saturday morning.

On Monday, police had issued one ticket for open liquor and another for underage drinking under the Liquor Control Act, Const. Dianne Penfound said. 

23 arrested, 2 fined

Tuesday afternoon, she said police had issued 23 additional tickets. Eleven were for failing to use a sidewalk, which comes with a $151.25 fine, for students standing in the street. Six related to public intoxication, which has a $134 fine.  

Two people were fined $467 for violating a noise bylaw and disturbing neighbours. Four people must attend court to respond to a summary offence ticket for permitting drunkenness in their home. 

Penfound said 23 students, including one youth, were arrested: six for being intoxicated in a public place and 17 for breaching the peace.

Community meeting planned

Dalhousie spokesperson Brian Leadbetter said the university has never dealt with a party of that scale.

In response, senior administrators from the university will be meeting with police, municipal officials and people who live in the area on Tuesday evening.

Notices about the meeting were dropped off at homes on the affected streets, Leadbetter said, as well as to people who had made university-linked noise complaints in the past.

"The purpose of this is to connect with our neighbours, to hear their concerns as we begin to develop plans for the future," he said. 

"Community safety was an issue. Safety is our highest priority. Ultimately these students who made these poor decisions put themselves at risk and put the safety of the community members at risk."  

Not just 'kids being kids'

Waye Mason, the municipal councillor for the area, said he has received many emails from concerned residents who live in the area. 

"When I hear people saying, 'Oh it's just kids being kids, parties like this happen' I've never seen anything like that happen in the neighbourhood in the 23 years I've lived there," he said. "And we certainly don't want to see it happen again." 

Police arrested 23 people, but only levied two alcohol-related fines. (Ross Andersen/Canadian Press)

Peggy Walt, who lives near Dalhousie, was at home while students partied nearby, drinking and blaring music through the day and night. She said she was worried students would fall off balconies and hurt themselves.

'Feeling of complete anarchy'

"The feeling that you have when you have that many people congregated in a city neighbourhood — we're not talking about a football field, we're talking about a basic neighbourhood — is a feeling of complete anarchy, you have a feeling that anything goes," she said, adding she was pleased with the police response.

"We have to try to not encourage this culture of entitlement, of I can do anything I want. That's not how society works. That doesn't work when you're an adult with a job and a home. And it shouldn't be any different for students," she told Maritime Noon.

Seven police cars were parked along Jennings Street on Saturday afternoon. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Walt said she thinks the school needs to play a bigger role in disciplining students who violate the university's code of conduct and that landlords should be more accountable for what happens on their property. 

"We have to get the landlords involved. We need to start naming and shaming."

'Incredible disappointment'

In recent years, Leadbetter said the school has tried to promote homecoming events for alumni and current students to promote school spirit. While the majority of this weekend's events had no issues, he called the street party an "incredible disappointment."

"The behaviour of those students in that residential community was absolutely and completely unacceptable," he said. "That reflected on them and the university."

With files from Amy Smith, Emma Davie, Maritime Noon