St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year, much to the excitement of many Western students. But for local police services, they’re busying themselves with security preparations both on and off campus.
Campus Police will be making sure that they have additional officer presence to assist the community as needed, according to operational leader of Campus Police, Jean-Claude Aubin.
Since he started at Western, Aubin reported that St. Patrick’s Day campus activities have been busy, but not overly excessive.
“Typically, on St. Patrick’s Day, a lot more students head off-campus, which is the London Police’s side of it,” said Aubin.
London police constable, Amy Phillipo, confirmed that there will also be extra resources on the streets this Friday. Officers will be located both on Western’s campus, Fanshawe College and downtown London throughout the day. Police will also be targeting impaired drivers later on that night.
To remind party-goers of the various laws and possible consequences, Phillipo further added that officers have already been monitoring social media accounts and responding to public party invites.
“They would look into where the party’s at and then attend them,” said Phillipo. “That’s why our hashtag is #DontInviteUsToYourParty.”
Phillipo explained that the police will respond to social media postings by personally showing up to the parties. If necessary, London police can press charges for the illegal sale of alcohol, underage drinking, public intoxication or noise complaints.
In addition to the recent passing of a bylaw prohibiting rooftop drinking in London, Phillipo said that the police will be working to enforce all city bylaws and regulations. Increased policing efforts are in place to prevent incidents like the one at Fleming Drive that happened five years ago where drunken rioters attacked police and set vehicles on fire.
“We want the public to have fun but to do it responsibly,” said Phillipo.
Second-year engineering student, Edward Beingessner, is planning to partake in the traditional (alcohol-fuelled) festivities, like many other university and college students. Although he has no specific agenda, he says that in the past, he has hit a house party during the day before going to a bar at night.
Beingessner doesn't think the increased fines for rooftop drinking is necessary. However, he doesn't think many students will be out on roofs on St. Patrick's Day because of the cold weather.
"I think that’s kind of ridiculous because when you’re drinking and you’re on the roof, it’s not really an endangerment issue," he said. "It’s your own choice. They shouldn't have extra fines for that, but I can understand where they’re coming from."
While partying, Beingessner said that he makes sure to keep himself safe by staying close with his friends and by watching himself with drinks. He believes that students can stay safe by taking care of each other.
University Students’ Council (USC) president Eddy Avila also shares the same sentiment.
“From our perspective, we honestly trust students to make good decisions,” said Avila. “Everyone, not just students, are going to be having fun on St. Patrick’s Day. So just be respectful — that’s going to be the message that we’ll be pumping out in the next couple of days.”
Reminders will be released to the Western community through USC’s social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter. Avila wants to make sure that Western students will remember that they are a part of the London community and to take care of each other.
Avila said that he is particularly excited about an education booth that is being run by USC’s health promotions co-ordinator, Maher Alazzam, and his committee on the day before St. Patrick’s Day.
Acknowledging that there will be alcohol involved in Friday’s activities, they will be emphasizing the importance of consent in sexual violence prevention. The booth will be happening in the University Community Centre atrium on Thursday as a reminder for students to make smart decisions.
The USC has also arranged for on-campus St. Patrick’s Day programming. On Friday, The Spoke will have music, food and green beers, as they have done in previous years. Avila hopes that there will be performers available as well.
“Just embracing the fact that students will be looking to have fun,” said Avila. “If we can do so in a safe capacity, we’re always happy to do that.”
Student safety is Avila’s first priority — as long as students are within reach of police, they should be able to have fun in a secure location.