A strong and respectful connection to the community around it is a key pillar for Brock University.
As on-campus classes resume for the first time since March 2020, the University has welcomed thousands of students back to Niagara who have chosen to live in the region to study, work and enjoy their free time.
Brock University senior staff and student leaders join local politicians and the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) in their disappointment in the actions of Brock students and others who took part in off-campus parties in Thorold over the weekend.
Brock worked with NRPS and hired extra duty officers to patrol high-density student residential areas. A number of tickets were handed out and four arrests were made.
As another weekend approaches, post-secondary students in Niagara are being reminded to be good neighbours and understand the ramifications of their actions — both on themselves and the local residents around them.
“In recent weeks, with the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, we have seen an increase of gatherings and social events,” said NRPS Chief Bryan MacCulloch. “As has been the case throughout the pandemic, we are calling upon people to follow restrictions and regulations that have been put in place by public health officials to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our community.
“The recent gatherings in Thorold as it relates to parties, irresponsible drinking and rowdy behaviour have not fallen within this expectation. Residents should not be forced to have large crowds, illegal parking and garbage thrust upon them.”
Interim Brock University President Lynn Wells said the University is committed to educating its students — living on and off campus — about the importance of being responsible members of the community.
“Having students return to our campuses and to the Niagara region is a positive step forward, and we want to do whatever we can to ensure our students are making a positive contribution to the local community,” she said.
Wells also pointed out that Brock’s Student Code of Conduct addresses on- and off-campus student behaviour that is non-academic in nature and is designed to foster an environment of integrity and civic responsibility.
“The bad decisions of a few put the health and safety of others at risk, and can have a lasting impact on us all,” she said.
Brock has again hired extra officers and the NRPS will be stepping up patrols in Thorold neighbourhoods this weekend to provide enforcement if required. Bylaw officers will also be monitoring residential streets for illegally parked vehicles, which could be ticketed or towed.
Thorold Mayor Terry Ugulini said the issue is a top priority.
“The City continues to work with our community partners to fine-tune and implement a strategy required for high-density student areas and their impact on local residential neighbourhoods,” Ugulini said. “It is imperative that we continue to work together so that the student population fully understands the outcomes of their actions. While we welcome the students back and wish them success in their studies, they must remain mindful and respectful of their neighbours and the community.”
Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley agreed and said students need to remember that COVID-19 “is still a very real and pressing threat in our community.”
“While I can appreciate the excitement that many students may be feeling having just returned to in-person learning, and perhaps the first time being away from home, I want to stress the importance of following public health’s pandemic guidelines regarding gatherings,” Bradley said. “It is crucially important that everyone take the necessary steps to protect themselves and each other.”
Brock’s student leaders are also speaking out, with Brock University Students’ Union President Rafay Rehan calling on his peers to be responsible and safe.
“While the Brock University Students’ Union is glad to have students safely back on campus. large outdoor gatherings that go against Niagara Region Public Health guidelines not only put our community at risk but also the academic year that Brock University has so carefully planned.”
Graduate Students’ Association President Christopher Yendt said students need to “be considerate, be kind and be mindful, and together we can build the community we want to see.”
“The pandemic has left us all yearning for a return to social engagements, to see friends and enjoy the best aspects of university life,” he said. “In returning, it is crucial that graduate and undergraduate students alike remember that we are representatives of the University, both in the Niagara community and beyond. Our actions reflect not only on ourselves, but also on our friends, our colleagues and the University as a whole.”