Community Engagement on Street Party Culture
Large unsanctioned street parties and high-risk party culture, fueled by social media, are a growing issue in communities across the country. In terms of mitigation, there is no short-term fix, nor is there a single solution. This complex issue requires sustained cooperation aimed at addressing the root causes of this growing trend and finding alternative ways for students to feel connected to each other and their community.
Dalhousie has been researching other jurisdictions, meeting with our community partners, and hearing from students and community members. We are deeply committed to bringing the same innovative and creative thinking that takes place in our classrooms to supporting our collective efforts to create positive outcomes in our shared Halifax community.
Last year, Dalhousie and partners embarked on a multi-stakeholder collaborative framework to address unsanctioned street parties in our shared neighbourhood. This framework is specifically designed to bring forward multiple stakeholders from different sectors to develop a common agenda for solving a specific social problem. To support this work, Dalhousie worked with Inspiring Communities, a not-for-profit organization based in Nova Scotia that works to build collaborative relationships for social change in Atlantic Canada.
What resounded through this process was that while students are welcomed members of the community who bring diversity and vibrancy to the neighbourhood, there is a growing concern, particularly over the last 5-10 years, that party culture has become increasingly toxic, uncivil and destructive. Unsanctioned street parties are the pinnacle of this behaviour with serious risks for both student and community safety and wellbeing. While there have been many attempts and initiatives to help make progress on this front, the recent conversations facilitated as part of this process centered on ideas for doing things differently moving forward. Of particular focus was how to establish a more coordinated approach in our community and across the country.
Two reports have been produced to date:
- Report 1: Inspiring Communities' Report on Addressing Street Party Culture at Dalhousie University [PDF - 503 Kb]
- Report 2: Inspiring Communities’ Report on December Convening [PDF - 2.1 MB]
We want to thank Inspiring Communities for their tremendous efforts on this project and to all the stakeholders for giving their time and participating in this process.
Student voices are fundamental to this process, and we are committed to ensuring they play a key role in creating the solutions and alternatives that support our entire community. A separate multi-year student engagement process led by Dalhousie in partnership with the DSU has been holding deeper conversations with students about strengthening harm reduction tactics and identifying alternatives to unsanctioned street parties.
Approach to Fall 2023
The work produced by Inspiring Communities highlights the strengths and potential roles of various stakeholders involved in addressing this issue, themes for actions, and some
suggestions on how a collaborative network can be organized in a more coordinated, effective manner. We are pleased to report that much of this important work is underway as we seek to strengthen coordination and response to unsanctioned street gatherings, build a more engaged and vibrant campus culture, and steward community connections in our shared neighbourhood.
Enhancing the student experience and a sanctioned Homecoming at Dal
As part of our Student Transition and Engagement Framework, Dalhousie has been working with many partners, students, and social media influencers to cultivate a fun and vibrant student experience, while managing the negative effects of gatherings in the street.
To achieve this, we will be hosting a sanctioned Dalhousie Homecoming event on October 7. In addition to delivering Dal-organized and sanctioned on-campus programming with a Homecoming football game and DJ, we are helping to promote a large music festival (Magnetic World) on Garrison Grounds in Halifax that evening. All events will obtain the required permits and licenses and will be well-equipped with first responders and harm-prevention resources.
Homecoming will also be coupled with other large-scale, vibrant campus programming opportunities organized in partnership with athletics, Student Affairs and the Dalhousie Student Union through orientation and weekends throughout the early fall.
HRM and DAL task force and partner collaboration
Dalhousie has been actively working with HRM since late last year to establish a joint task force to strengthen coordination and response to unsanctioned street gatherings with key city officials and emergency first response partners. To prepare for this, Dalhousie arranged meetings with other universities experiencing similar issues and their local governments. The task force will be co-chaired by HRM Acting Managing Director, Government Relations Conor O’Dea, HRP Superintendent of Patrol Services Derrick Boyd, and Dalhousie Vice-Provost Student Affairs Rick Ezekiel. The membership will also include community representatives. More information can be found in the Terms of Reference [PDF - 150Kb].
Building community connections: Larch and Jennings placemaking mural
Some of the prominent themes of the multi-stakeholder collaborative conversations were the ways that we can support stronger community connections, belonging and a sense of shared responsibility. With this in mind, Dalhousie is supporting and helping to fund a community-led ground-oriented mural at the intersection of Jennings and Larch streets this fall, called the Paint the Street Placemaking Project. To bring this to life, the core team attended placemaking sessions with HRM and worked with artist Tayla Fern Paul to hold discussions with the community about how the design can promote the themes of community connection, responsibility, and well-being. On September 23, Larch and Jennings streets will be closed, and the colourful street art will be painted by residents under the guidance of Paul. The day will also be marked with a celebration where the community can spend time together while enjoying food and entertainment.
Response and mitigation
On campus, Dalhousie has an integrated response team to address and mitigate the physical, medical, psychological, and sexualized violence harms of unsanctioned street parties. This is done through partnership and information-sharing with emergency services. Our operational response includes increased Dal Security throughout campus as well as enhanced security measures, training, and student leaders in residences. We also coordinate with Dalhousie Medical Campus Response Team to provide support for student safety on weekends in residence, and around campus during high-risk events.
We continue to invest in significant harm-reduction programming on campus. A new harm reduction approach Dalhousie is taking this fall is the launch of the Dal Care Hubs. The Care Hubs will provide students with a safe, non-judgemental, and supportive hub during move-in weekend, large orientation activities, and key events throughout the fall. Situated next to the Studley Quad in Halifax, the Care Hub is a friendly and approachable on-campus space which will include services such as free snacks and water, the Dal Medical Campus Response Team (DMCRT), health promotion resources, and Ask Me! booths to assist with wayfinding and questions. The Care Hubs will be managed by trained staff and volunteers, and will work with partners like Dal Security, Student Health & Wellness, and first responders, as needed.
We continue to ensure students are aware of the potential risks and consequences of participating in illegal and destructive behaviours, through robust communications directly to them. We have refreshed and amplified good neighbour/community member educational content through new strategies, programming, and expanded channels. This includes formal memos to students, Dal Mobile content, New to Dal learning modules on good citizenship and the Code of Student Conduct, postcard campaigns, Community Calendar and Family and Friends-specific communication and programming that emphasize student support systems. With feedback heard through student engagement, we will be targeting more of this outreach directly through our faculties this fall.
For more information about Unsanctioned Street Parties and Dal’s approach to student behavior off-campus, please see our FAQs.
We will keep our community informed through this website, community updates distributed in our neighbourhoods and our Dal channels (web, social and Dal news).
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments.