Western, city and health officials call for calm homecoming
A letter to students at Western University sent on behalf of President and Vice-Chancellor Alan Shepard Wednesday, asks them to avoid unsanctioned parties this homecoming weekend to help improve safety.
It follows a rally on Friday that drew thousands calling for better safety on campus after unconfirmed reports that a number of women were drugged and sexually assaulted on campus.
"You are demanding more safety and security on our campus. You're calling for big changes in Western's culture," Shepard wrote in regard to addressing sexual and gender-based violence and overall safety within their campus.
But as the community braces for Saturday's potential homecoming parties, Shepard warns students to do their part for safety on campus by choosing to avoid highly dangerous events -- stating the potential for injury and violence is real.
"We are working with our public health and safety partners to protect our community from the high risks that come with large unsanctioned parties. Those risks are compounded right now by the threat of COVID-19."
During a media briefing Thursday, London Mayor Ed Holder added his voice to the call for calm.
"I'm imploring students to avoid Broughdale this weekend, it's simply not worth it. All the usual precautions are being put in place including a significant response from law enforcement and Section 22 orders."
Besides the rules in effect under the provincial Reopening Act, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) announced a Section 22 order earlier this week that took effect at noon Thursday, allowing for larger fines to be handed out to partygoers including $750 - $5,000 or higher for those hosting parties.
Holder added, "I am absolutely terribly concerned that another student is going to get hurt or worse, and I think Western, in just a few short weeks, has been through enough already."
The mayor said there are detailed safety plans in place that include a number of community partners.
"What you will see is signficant law enforcement present in the Broughdale area, you'll see our paramedic services teams there that will be on hand to support as needed, and I'd like to add that police won't hesitate to administer fines as they did earlier thise week dealing with unsanctioned parties"
You can find details on Western’s action plan on sexual violence here.