City, police prepare for Western HoCo street parties

The City announced on Sept. 20 that an Unsanctioned Street Party Task Force has been working for months to prepare for Saturday's party. (Students attend HoCo event on Broughdale Ave., 2017).

On Sept. 23, the most anticipated party for Western University students begins. Homecoming, or HoCo, is celebrated annually on the penultimate Saturday of September. The City announced on Sept. 20 that an Unsanctioned Street Party Task Force has been working for months to prepare for Saturday’s party.

The task force includes representatives from Western University, Fanshawe College, the City of London, the London Police Service (LPS), the London Fire Department (LFD), Middlesex-London Paramedic Service, and the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU).

“Our goal is always to educate and make sure people are safe. Suppose it comes down to the point where enforcement is required. In that case, we can issue a ticket or lay a criminal charge based on what happened and the situation’s outcome,” said Matthew Dawson, Constable and Media Officer from the LPS.

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Officers may impose fines for multiple infractions and even several times on the same day. Fines include:

  • Attend a nuisance party: $800
  • Do not leave the facilities: $750
  • Use of a closed road: $500
  • Urinate in a public place: $250
Last year, police issued 22 Liquor License Control Act charges and 34 administrative monetary penalties, including noise violations and street and grounds maintenance ordinances.

Smriti Pokhrael, a second-year student of the Collaborative Nursing program between Fanshawe College and Western University, said she will not be attending this year’s HoCo events.

“It sounds fun, but I’m not a party type of person,” she said.

Pokhrael said the allegations of sexual assault that came to light during Western’s Orientation Week two years ago were part of what made her uncomfortable attending parties in the Western University area.

The statement from the City noted that incidences of gender-based and sexual violence (GBSV) can be discloses without talking to police, describing what happened in detail, or even sharing your name through the Map My Experience website.

Laura Broomfield is also a student at Fanshawe College and has attended HoCo for the past three years.

“I know there will be a lot of very drunk people. So, as long as you care for yourself and ensure you don’t overstep your limits, you’ll be fine,” Broomfield.

HoCo originated in the 1950s. The event historically celebrates students’ return to Western University. However, the party moved from the university to the streets as time passed. Specifically, to Broughdale Ave., a street predominantly home to students became a meeting point for the street parties.

In 2016, the educational institution moved the traditional Homecoming from September to October in an effort to reduce the street parties by pushing the date back closer to exams and to a time when the weather would be colder. But the tactic ultimately failed, as that same year, approximately 10,000 students arrived at Broughdale Ave. on the original date of HoCo. This gathering was the beginning of what’s now known as Fake Homecoming (FoCo).

According to a LPS report on its internal task forces, the cost of policing Western University’s 2022 HoCo event in September amounts to just over $265,000, an increase of $9,057 from the previous year.