Community & Culture

Why I’m Glad Ryerson Doesn’t Have a “Homecoming”

Students walking through a crowded street.

It’s the night before homecoming and all of the university students are tucked into their beds. They’ve stitched and sown their hoco outfits coloured head to toe in their school’s colours. The pancake mix is ready to be prepared, the keg ready to be tapped. Alcohol is chilling in the freezer and the decorations are ready. Their alarms are set for 8 a.m.

When the alarm rings everyone scrambles. Hair is washed, curled and plucked to perfection. Everyone dresses in their outfits they have carefully planned for days. The music starts blaring and the first drink is finished.

When everyone started drinking at 9 o’clock in the morning, I decided to eat some pancakes instead. I watched people take shots and shot gun beers, while others cheered them on. Looking around, I had to ask myself, what are we doing here? We’re not going to the football game; no one even mentions the cheerleaders, or the stadium. We’re just here to binge drink.

It wasn’t my first homecoming, but all of them have been relatively the same. Except this time something changed; I realized that I don’t actually like this tradition I’ve been groomed to take part in.

This realization came as a surprise to me because I had always seen homecoming as part of the traditional “university experience” — a standard part of growing up. In first year I even considered Ryerson’s lack of homecoming a disadvantage, like these students voiced on Twitter.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun seeing my friends this weekend; I got to catch up with them, see their new houses, meet their new friends and go out to bars with them. But I also saw a lot of negativity, too.

I witnessed two tables and a chair being broken at my friend’s house during the day. At night, the main street (where all of the bars are) was closed off to cars while heavily armed police officers patrolled the street. Last year, I saw living rooms become small ponds from people trekking in water and dirt from outside and students drunkenly dancing on rooftops.

What seems like fun in theory is actually destructive and reckless in practice.

When I looked into it I found that homecomings have negatively affected a lot of students and their communities. Case in point: Queen’s homecoming 2005. The Queen’s University Journal reported a car was flipped, and ignited on William Street in the area of Kingston known as the “Student Ghetto”. On the same night beer bottles were thrown at police officers on duty and 35 people were arrested. It was also reported that an ambulance was unable to respond to a call because of crowded streets. The uncontrollable partying prompted the university to put its homecoming tradition on hold for four years between 2008 and 2012.

The fun part of the tradition is getting together with friends. But somewhere along the way reckless behaviour was added, and it only seems to be getting worse. Students are often praised by their peers for being the most drunk and out of control, especially if they can’t remember it the next day.

We, the Ryerson students, have our fair share of drunken stupors but our campus culture is different — a good different. My peers are mostly creative individuals constantly working on new projects to hone their skills. Most of us are either studying or trying to study in fields we show interest for. We come to campus, go to class and meet up for lunch in one of the new restaurants around Toronto. We hear about new bars opening up and want to explore them. We dress nice for class because our campus intertwines downtown Toronto. We can walk to almost anything we want to but spend most of our time on campus because of the large commuter community. Ultimately there’s something here for everyone, and people’s interests are reflected in the options on campus, like spoken word events or trivia nights.

Not to say other universities don’t have these things, too, but the difference at Ryerson is that our school lives aren’t based around what party we’re going to next, or how f*&!ed up we got the weekend before.

I guess that’s why I’m glad Ryerson doesn’t have a homecoming of it’s own, because it means my school falls outside of the typical university stereotype. If I want to go visit my friends and have that experience, I can, but it doesn’t have to affect my everyday life.

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Stefanie Phillips
You guys can call me Stef. I'm a writer from Toronto currently studying journalism here at Ryerson. My hobbies include searching for the best vegetarian restaurants, binge watching Girls and finding the adventure in any situation.