Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bleeding Tricolour: Queen's kills Homecoming football game

You can kiss those crowds of 12,000 that Queen's regularly has its Homecoming game goodbye.

Queen's, bowing to paranoia and some crybaby Kingston residents who only want to take the good of having a university in their midst, has taken the easy way out with its problem of the street party that has become part of the Homecoming weekend. In order to keep students from seeing Homecoming as a reason to party -- ha! -- they have moved alumni weekend to spring. Their 2009 homecoming weekend will be from May 22-24 (Victoria Day weekend is actually the week before). In doing so, they have ruined a tradition that was too good to lose.

The impact on the football Golden Gaels will be devastating. The Homecoming game sets the tone for the entire season. It is also a valuable recruiting chip for coach Pat Sheahan -- look at the crowds you'll play in front of, son. You lose the Homecoming game, you're cutting yourself out of a major market in terms of fans.

The weekend itself, with the parade of alumni, some in the their 80s and 90s, around the stadium at halftime, is the best part of homecoming. That's gone, and with it, those those crowds of 12,000 people will zanish. Does Queen's principal Tom Williams understand that?

This is an all-time knee-jerk reaction. To quote Chris Hitchens, zero tolerance means zero thought. This has nothing to do with trying to impart morality to young people. Queen's would have stopped a culture of partying decades ago if that was the case. There is plenty of drunken debauchery attached to the year-end formals thrown by the largest faculties (well, so I'm told -- I never got to go, sniff), but they don't shut down the Sci Formal.

The weekend's purpose is to engage alumni and current students. What are alumni going "home" to when the campus is a ghost town because 98% of the undergraduates have gone home for the summer? They go back to remember what it was like in their school days -- chances are, some of them were never around in May, except for when they graduated!

For this alumnus, a fond Queen's memory is being in the front row on the student side at Homecoming 1997, high-fiving and shaking hands with graduates from as far back as 1937 during the halftime parade. University can make you feel like a number. That day, for a few minutes, I was connected to something larger than myself.

Never mind a 100-year tradition. That is something that resonates, something that future Queen's students are not going to get, no matter how high their tuition is jacked. Change is inevitable, but this does not seem like good chance.

Queen's Athletics, together with the Queen's Football Club, will no doubt try to fill the void, and I'll support them in any way I can.

Today, though, the university has thrown away something wonderful and unique to Queen's and Eastern Ontario. What a terrible message. Who is benefiting from this decision? Tom Williams, some whiny Kingston residents and some beancounters at City Hall (who have to watch every penny since the city council elected to build a $43-million arena for the worst-run major junior hockey team in Canada).

Not the students, not the alumni and certainly not the Queen's Golden Gaels football team, which has brought the university so much publicity through the years. Hang your head in shame, Tom Williams.

Queen's University moves Homecoming from fall to spring (Kingston Whig-Standard)

(Cross-posted to The CIS Blog.)


Big V said...

Who elected this guy... Bring back Hitchcock

Sad to see the university give in to the lowlifes who complain becuase they have nothing better to do.

Pattington said...

I will throw my hat into the ring on this one.

Good move by the school. I think the importance of a homecoming weekend is overstated.

Duane Rollins said...

I'm dumbfounded - literally stunned by the stupidity. First the Golden thing now this...If I were an alum I would pulling every penny I could from the school (and encouraging my former classmates to do the same) until it got its head out of its ass.

Duane Rollins said...


That's because we in Canada don't do nearly enough to take full advantage of homecoming weekends. Queen's was an exception. This decision will piss off a lot of important people and I suspect, whatever the Queen's football folks organize will be 1000X better attended than the spring homecoming (which should be boycotted).

Tradition matters. At least it should anyway.

Andrew said...

I find it interesting that Williams is implementing this decision, considering he's the interim principal and won't be around to deal with the fallout for at least one, if not both, of those years. As an alum (and current grad student), I was already considering not donating to Queen's (if anyone asks, I already "donated" $142 to the Queen's Centre; thanks, AMS!); this only serves to cement that decision.

And you know what? Aberdeen's probably going to happen anyway, with or without an "official" autumn Homecoming. I don't like it, but I can see people throwing it together in defiance of what has happened.

Andrew Bucholtz said...

Yeah, I'm not a fan of this one. Homecoming was one of the few times we saw university football as it should be, with the crowds, spirit and enthusiasm involved; without that, we'll be back to the typically half-full stadium all fall long. I can see Queen's wanting to calm down the street party, but this is the wrong way to do it. As the other Andrew points out above, this might not even stop Aberdeen.

Pattington said...

Hey hey,

It should be noted that I actually went to Queen's for two years, but transferred to another institution. I do not, though, hold any ill-will toward the school.

I think for school administrators, whether interim or not, the negative images emmanating from that weekend play more in the public realm than the positives that may come from the brief commraderie of a homecoming weekend. I mean, the vast (and I mean vast) majority of Canadians (even those who went to Canadian universities) do not care about CIS football (and CIS sports in general). Obviously, such a move was made to appease such folks (and likely some negative image conscious alumni).

Also, while such a weekend might demonstrate how CIS football should be played, it doesn't reflect the reality that for the rest of the year, even at Queen's, a school with the greatest degree of community I have experienced at a post-secondary insitution.

Thus, I don't think you need homecoming, and all that comes with it, to create the community that permeates through Queen's. Sure, it may be a part of it, but it is not the only cog.

Amrit Ahluwalia said...

1) Pattington's second-last paragraph is incomplete. Minus 10 points. That said, if what you're trying to say is that no one cares about CIS football, even at Queen's, it shouldn't matter. One huge weekend like that gives the team a boost, and I have friends who didn't go to any Queen's football until the Homecoming game, got interested in the sport and started going to other games. That stuff doesn't only happen in after-school specials there, chief.

2) Homecoming is now the May 2-4 weekend. Make of that what you will.

Mike Radoslav said...

Calming down Homecoming wouldn't have been a bad decision, it was getting out of hand with every passing year. However eliminating Homecoming on the whole is asinine and one hell of an overreaction!

There were SO many other venues they could have tried but didn't bother, just scrapped a tradition as rich as Queen's Homecoming. And yes they likely talked about it but what big changes were ever introduced? Talk is cheap, as far as I can tell every year they'd bemoan what happens HC weekend but never really take a stand.

Awful, awful move that will hurt in the school in more ways than they suspect in the end, HC was a huge draw for the school and garnered alumni support.

Oldexpat said...


A clear case of the tail wagging the dog (and bad decision making).

What makes them think this will stop the party? I predict it will happen anyway at the Student’s instigation – and will be an even bigger disaster since the authorities will not be geared up for it.

In my view the only solution is twofold – provide a viable alternative and enforce a ban on Aberdeen Street-

I'll be leaving my Red Hat on the hook next year.

Anonymous said...

How many of you guys have actually been to Aberdeen on homecoming night in the past 4 years. Sure I partied there in the past but was probably to drunk to realize how dangerous it really was. Going back this year with a little more maturity (not to mention sobriety) I realized just how dangerous the whole situation had become. Obvoiusly it is a tragic loss for the football team but in this instance that is merely a secondary concern. With a homecoming reveler being beaten into a coma this year, who knows what would have happened next year. Good move by the school to temporarily suspend the tradition so that it can be brought back the way it was intended to be rather then a chance for every other Uni student in Ontario to come to Kingston and run wild for a weekend.

Anonymous said...

The permanent residents living near Queen's University expect no more, but will accept no less, than a standard of behaviour that the families of those Queen's students would expect of residents in their neighbourhood in their home town. Surely that is fair.


sager said...

Where were you last fall?