Hamilton police charge Waterloo student tied to ‘unsanctioned’ university homecoming party

A student from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., is the latest to be charged in connection with the “fake” homecoming party that drew thousands to the Hamilton’s west end on the weekend.

Police say the 19-year-old from Burlington was arrested and faces a charge for mischief under $5,000.

It’s the eighth charge laid in connection with the “unsanctioned” event in the area of Dalewood and Westwood that had as many as 5,000 people in the area at its peak, according to investigators.

Read more:
Hamilton police lay charges after ‘unsanctioned,’ ‘fake’ McMaster University homecoming party

So far, charges laid from Saturday have been for mischief, liquor licence violations and breach of the peace/causing a disturbance.

Detectives say they are still looking for seven other suspects whose pictures were released on the Hamilton police website.

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All seven face similar accusations after a car was overturned and property damaged amid the weekend gathering.

McMaster president David Farrar issued a statement and an apology the following day, referring to the event as a “fake homecoming.”

“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,” said Farrar.

Sean Van Koughnett, associate vice-president and dean of students, told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton the school continues to work with Hamilton police and city bylaw enforcement in identifying those of interest who participated in acts of mayhem.

“A lot of the activity was simply large groups of people standing around, but there were the instance of destruction of property,” Van Koughnett said.

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“In particular, we’re interested in that. The challenge is to identify the individuals in those videos so that we can take appropriate action.”

Van Koughnett earlier this week told Global News that officials with McMaster saw “signs” of something being planned through tips via social media.

He went on to say not all of those involved were McMaster students and some likely came from other schools or were not students at all.

“We have people who hide behind social media accounts. Whether they’re students or not, no one knows,” Van Koughnett said.

Read more:
More participants likely to face discipline, charges following ‘unsanctioned’ McMaster homecoming

The exec says the gatherings are likely not something that can be prevented, but university staff are hoping to find ways to mitigate injury and property damage in the future.

“Kingston, London, Waterloo. They’ve all had years of these large street parties that go on, and they are difficult to contain,” said Van Koughnett.

“I don’t think there’s any naivety around thinking that they can be prevented or will be prevented entirely. But when it comes to the dangers to people’s property or to people’s health, that’s where we get concerned.”

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Previous attempts to do on-campus activities haven’t worked in the past, largely due to the fact no alcohol is served.

One potential future deterrent could be fencing and crowd control, according to Van Koughnett, since such measures do exist in other Ontario university communities.

The VP believes the excessive bad behaviour seen at the event is not something the bulk of the university’s student body endorses but he’s not sure it would discourage future street parties.

“Whether or not that’s a possibility this becomes an annual event? I guess that’s to be seen,” Van Koughnett said.

“We’re going to be working with the city and with police to figure out how to manage this in the future.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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