Students encouraged to ‘keep it social’ this spring

While the end of winter is a cause for celebration, Acadia University, the Acadia Students’ Union (ASU), and the Town of Wolfville are working with local RCMP to ensure students enjoy warmer weather without adverse repercussions.

“Sure signs of spring at university towns across Canada are an increase in end-of-semester social events like banquets, club and association celebrations, and a busier downtown,” says James Sanford, Acadia’s Executive Director of Student Services. “Temperatures are on the rise as classes wind down, and that combination, coupled with the well-earned desire to socialize, can sometimes lead to unintended consequences for some students.”

To offset the negative impact of unsanctioned events and unruly behaviour, the local RCMP is increasing its presence in Wolfville this weekend, along with the Town’s Bylaw Enforcement office and Acadia’s Safety and Security team. At the same time, Student Life staff and the Students’ Union are offering enhanced campus programming for students to enjoy.

“Our students are hardworking young adults with a lot to celebrate as classes end, and they complete end-of-semester academic work and prepare for exams. We encourage them to ‘keep it social’ and stay safe,” explains Sanford. “By working together, we hope to prevent the significant risks to health and safety that some ad hoc gatherings pose.”

“Off-campus events inconsistent with the values and expectations of the University, Student Union, and Town cannot be ignored,” Sanford cautions, adding that the Student Code of Conduct lays out student responsibilities and consequences.

Keep it social and safe

Sanford explains that there are many ways students can enjoy themselves and gather with friends that eliminate the need for excessive drinking or behaviour that disrupts others or puts anyone at risk.

Acadia and Wolfville are early adopters of the Keep it Social program, a student-led partnership across 11 universities and colleges in Atlantic Canada that offers education about alcohol and cannabis consumption and a culture of moderation.

Student Life staff focus on offering sanctioned events through programs like Acadia at Night, led by Courtney Sheedy, Coordinator of Campus Health Promotion. In addition, students living in residence have additional extracurricular opportunities developed by Brent LeGrow, Residence Education Coordinator.

Organizers list events on the Acadia Event Calendar and share them with students via email and the University’s social media channels. This weekend’s highlights include a free pancake breakfast in the Axe Lounge, bubble soccer, and a Bob Ross-themed paint night event. In addition, the Students’ Centre main level will transform into an arcade for games and free pizza on Saturday night.

Advocates for alternatives

The University and Acadia Students’ Union are working together to develop enhanced student programming.

“The ASU is committed to upholding the University’s values of integrity and respect while recognizing that an outstanding piece of the student experience should embrace fun, community spirit, and tradition,” says Sadie McAlear, President of the Acadia Students’ Union.

She explains that she and her team have advocated for and helped develop a range of social events and innovative programming.

“We know that students are eager to engage with activities that meet them where they are and cater to the diversity of their interests,” she says, encouraging students to take advantage of the programming available throughout the spring term safely and respectively.  

The University shares that sentiment.

“The Keep it Social program has been instrumental in helping students learn how to have a good time while respecting the rights of others to live in a safe and harmonious community,” says Dr. Peter Ricketts, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. He adds that he’s been impressed by the responsible behaviour demonstrated by most students as they focus on their academic, extracurricular, and volunteer pursuits.

“We know the vast majority of students at Acadia enjoy being a part of the community and will find positive ways to have fun when they are not in class or studying,” Ricketts says.

“It fills our entire community with pride to see these leaders of tomorrow learning, growing, and enjoying themselves in ways that do not cause hurt or harm to themselves and others,” he adds. “We continue our commitment to challenge and support them as they follow their dreams.”

For the minority who create or choose to attend disruptive off-campus activities, Ricketts explains that they can face code of conduct consequences from Acadia and fines and potential legal penalties from the Town and RCMP. The Town’s regulatory processes also ensure that property owners are not exempt from prosecution.

Information about noise and nuisance party by-laws can be found on the website for the Town of Wolfville.

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