Street parties — and toxic student culture — must end

Official statement regarding the street party and fire on Ezra Ave on Sept. 2:

I am terribly disheartened by this impromptu party. The fact that students -- both those new to town and those already here -- should start the school year like this gives me great concern, particularly with Homecoming just around the corner.

These parties are a gross abuse of privilege: the privilege to study, the privilege to live away, the privilege to feel safe enough to throw the safety and consideration of others to the wind. These students are adults, with all the responsibilities that come with that.

These events also point to a thriving student party culture that feels dangerously akin to what we see at colleges in the US. Experience tells us that this kind of culture can be toxic, dangerous, and detrimental to students, staff, and neighbouring residents alike. Tertiary institutions and student associations must take ownership of their respective student cultures. Only they can set -- or reset -- the standards that are expected and accepted.

The City is in a difficult position, caught between discouraging these parties and protecting public safety (which can make the events look official). The Unsanctioned Public Gatherings Task Force has been looking at the major gatherings of St Patrick's Day and Homecoming. Last night's party indicates the matter is snowballing. These parties -- and this culture -- are untenable and must end.