By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about the controversy surrounding Wilfrid Laurier University’s alleged “banning” of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
The decisions made surrounding the festivities have some students believing that their right to celebrate has been taken away or that St. Patrick’s Day needs to be “saved”. The headlines not only have Laurier students up in arms, but are raising concerns amongst all post-secondary party-goers, fearing that they too might feel the squeeze of the “no-fun police” at their school.
After all, Wilfrid Laurier University isn’t the only school with a reputation for big St. Paddy’s celebrations. Queen’s University in Kingston was documented for their out-door celebration last year, and celebrations in London have earned a notorious reputation.
But good news everyone – St. Paddy’s day isn’t going anywhere and none of your “rights” are being trampled on. You do not have to fight for your right party.
As Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) Student’s Union President and CEO, Olivia Matthews, describes in her response letter to the allegations claiming the school has “canceled” the fun for the day, The University is not banning the festivities or trying to discourage Golden Hawks from celebrating, but rather trying to limit the risk of unlawful or unsafe activities on campus. As such, they are taking extra safety precautions, such as having additional security, locking specific buildings to limit trespassing, and ensuring that students who wish to attend classes as per usual are able to do so safely and undisturbed.
So it’s a few extra police, and you’re not able to trespass — which you were never allowed to in the first place, and it’s all being done to make sure nobody gets hurt. Man, student safety, what a bummer. What’s next, health plans?
Let’s be clear. Nobody is waging a war on St. Paddy’s Day fun and your school is not in danger of having the festivities canceled all together. All they want you to do is keep festivities reasonable and in areas such as local bars or nightclubs in the evening. Obviously, just about everybody wants to have fun in University and to celebrate holidays like St. Patrick’s Day. But can you really argue that your fun should impede upon the safety or rights of others, such as your fellow students who might want to focus on school for the day?
St. Paddy’s has never been a free-for-all or a day when regular laws are suspended. Students seem to think that it is. Last year, in Waterloo alone, police laid a whopping 269 charges on students. It’s also worth noting that the 2012 St. Patrick’s Day Fanshawe riots remain the worst ever case of civil unrest in the city of London, Ontario.
Is it really that difficult to imagine why thousands of drunken, barely-old-enough-to-drink humans parading in the middle of the street might be a safety concern for regular citizens and law enforcement?
Tyler Van Herzele, incoming WLU Student’s Union President and CEO’s views incorporate a “risk management lens”. He illustrates that he “can see a large event that may put students at risk of either harming themselves or others,” while at the same time knowing that St .Patrick’s Day is “a fun day of socializing and celebrating.”
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.