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What Doesn’t Kill You

Dal Students’ Pre-Hoco Opinions

Dalhousie University and Halifax Regional Municipality are working together to keep Homecoming under control. The city and the university have announced a plan to prepare for Hoco instead of acting like it doesn’t exist. It’s definitely a good thing, last year’s party got a little out of control. 

The joint task force includes representatives from Dalhousie administration, Halifax Regional Municipality  and the Halifax Regional Police. Noticeably, it’s missing any sort of direct student representation. Personally, I figured the need for a student voice to be included in such a task force would be clear – obviously, I was wrong.

The task force has scheduled some events for Hoco. These events include a music festival, a football game, food trucks and drinking. Instead of ignoring the parties, it’s promising that Dal is choosing to be actively involved. Last year’s attempt to employ an ostrich-based solution did not work in the slightest. It’s reassuring that they’re choosing a different path. 

Last year’s attempt to employ an ostrich-based solution did not work in the slightest.

Last year’s Hoco saw a stabbing, students being pepper sprayed and violent police action. If Dal chooses to be proactive, the school will have more influence over the inevitable shenanigans that will occur during the party. The more important question is whether any students will actually show up to Dal’s Hoco. The event has a lot of potential, but student attendance will determine its feasibility for future years. If Dal attracts even half of last year’s volume (4000 students), it will be a good show.

I spoke to Dal students regarding Hoco and their reactions to the new strategy. What was immediately striking was that none of my interview subjects were aware of the Hoco task force. That’s already a big strike against Dal. No matter how good a party they plan, nobody will show up if Dal doesn’t tell anybody. Before you think it – yes, those interviewed here  are good students who regularly check their Dal email. 

I spoke to first-year student Will Creaghan who was initially adamant that he would not attend Dal Hoco. He was rather traumatized by Dal’s O-Week, during which he found the administration’s attempts to make a fun time on campus far too suffocating. He worried there wouldn’t be nearly enough room for drunken shenanigans. Creaghan admitted he might go to Dal’s sanctioned events to pregame and eat some food truck food, but also said he was definitely more excited for the street party. 

During O-week, the administration’s attempts to make a fun time on campus were far too suffocating

Other students were excited because Hoco was going to be more controlled. Allie Scott was relieved to hear there would be some aspect of crowd control and organization. She hoped this year she would be able to enjoy the party without experiencing anxiety about the crowd. 

Last year’s 4000-person street party had a lot of uncontrolled elements. Those elements included everything from stabbings, and pepper spray (police), to state-sponsored beatings (also police), huge dense crowds and authorities who were more interested in intimidation than they were in helping people (yes, police again). Scott hopes that with active participation from Dal, she might feel safer at Hoco. 

Eve Dolan and Porter DeJong, two first-year students, are excited for Hoco. They’re excited about the festivities and are curious about how effective Dal’s new direction will be. Bronwyn Dixon, a fourth-year student, echoed this statement but mentioned that Dal might have more luck attracting students if they had professionals running the show. Dixon suggested inviting Halifax bars to set up on campus. Dolan and DeJong supported this idea, noting they would feel like they were really coming home to Dal if they could support local Halifax vendors. Dolan, DeJong and Dixon said they would enjoy student discounts at Halifax bars during Hoco weekend, but agreed that, as great as cheap drinks are, it wouldn’t feel like a Dal event.

It will behoove Dal to fully embrace Halifax, in all its drunken glory. 

The Maritimes have an extremely strong sense of community and yet Dal always seems to be avoiding the Maritimer culture. Kim Brooks just needs to accept that, like it or not, drinking is part of Maritimer culture. I promise you there is a large portion of out-of-province students who are coming to Hoco precisely because their cousins and parents told them crazy stories about getting shit-faced in Howe Hall. It will behoove Dal to fully embrace Halifax, in all its drunken glory. 

And for the record, every interview subject agreed that if Signal Hill played and drinks were flowing, they would go to Hoco for at least one good Maritimer sing-along. 

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