McMaster University president apologizes after destructive street party in Hamilton

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Published October 3, 2021 at 9:10 pm

The president of McMaster University has apologized after thousands of students partied on a residential street off campus, leaving a wave of destruction and resulting in multiple charges.

About 5,000 people descended on a street early Saturday afternoon during a “fake homecoming” event at the same time as the school’s first home football game of the season, Hamilton police said.

Glass bottles and cans were launched at officers and a squad car was damaged, they added.

A group also flipped a car over, police alleged, which prompted the force to release images of those wanted in connection with the destruction.

McMaster president David Farrar called the students’ actions on Saturday “completely unacceptable.”

“McMaster students, and any others who chose to be part of the gathering of several thousand people in our community on Saturday, owe our neighbours, our emergency workers and every other student an apology for the disruptions, disrespect of property and disregard of those who live in our community,” Farrar said in a statement.

“On their behalf, I apologize for this behaviour, particularly by those who caused damage and put anyone at risk.”

Police said no one was seriously hurt, but “several individuals were treated for injuries consistent with falling and excessive alcohol consumption.”

Police said investigators are reviewing video and images of the party and are asking for the public’s help to identify those involved with flipping a white Mazda car.

Two people have been charged with liquor licence violations and five face charges for breaching the peace.

“Fake homecoming” events have become “all too common” at universities across the province, Farrar said.

“These events are promoted and encouraged by people who hide behind the privacy of social media without any consideration for students or others who might be injured, or for the neighbourhoods that suffer the noise, garbage, property damage and disruptions,” he said.

Farrar said the school chose not to have any official homecoming events connected to the football team’s first home game of the season.

He said the school worked with police and bylaw officers ahead of the weekend and worked with the student union to remind students of the consequences if the unsanctioned street party went ahead and got out of control.

“The vast majority of our students chose not to be part of the gathering, but those who did, and especially those who chose to be reckless and destructive, put themselves and others at risk,” Farrar said.

“Their actions leave the impression that all students behave this way, which is neither true nor fair.”

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

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