Officials condemn students' 'reckless' behaviour during Queen's homecoming

Despite warnings from police, the mayor and university officials, the streets around the university were flooded with thousands of people by early Saturday afternoon. 

Around 8,000 gathered Saturday for unsanctioned street party

Despite stark warnings not to gather for Queen's University homecoming, thousands of people descended on Aberdeen Street in the student housing district on Saturday. (Kingston police)

Officials at Queen's University are condemning the behaviour of some students who they say defied provincial COVID-19 gathering limits and caused damage to the Kingston, Ont., campus and nearby neighbourhoods during this weekend's homecoming celebrations.

Despite warnings from police, the mayor and university officials earlier in the week for students not to attend large gatherings, the streets were flooded with people by early Saturday afternoon. 

Kingston Police estimated the crowds on Aberdeen Street, near the university's student housing area, numbered around 8,000 at one point. 

In a statement released Sunday, the school's principal and vice-chancellor Patrick Deane expressed his disappointment for "the reckless behaviour of some of our students, as well as by other individuals who came here for the sole purpose of causing trouble."

"Such behaviour is dangerous, irresponsible, and ultimately inexcusable," he wrote.

University assessing damage

Not only were some people angered by the large crowds at a time when the local hospital said it was already seeing a record number of patients, but say they were upset and outraged to see handmade signs with misogynistic messages hanging from two homes in the area.

Brock Jekill is a third year student at Queen's University. He first saw images of the signs circulating on social media Saturday and decided to go to one of the homes to ask the people to take it down.

"It was the 'lock up your daughters, not Kingston.' So they managed to check the misogynistic and anti-Covid measures boxes in one fell swoop," he said.

"When we talk about university culture, we are part of university culture ... I was sitting at home and was like, if we want to change this, why don't we go and just talk to these guys and see about getting them taken down."

Jekill said he and his friends were met with hostility by the people inside the home and eventually left without seeing it come down. The university said both signs were later removed by campus security.

In a statement, Queen's University said it condemns the misogynistic signs and that the school would "actively pursue" students under the school's Student Code of Conduct.

Deane wrote that the university and student volunteers would also be assessing the damage to the campus, along with nearby neighbourhoods and working to clean up any mess left behind.

He said university officials would also be meeting with Kingston Police and the city.