Update on university response to unsanctioned street parties

- October 7, 2021

The following message was commuicated to all students, faculty and staff on Thursday, October 7, and is being shared openly for our broader community.

See also: President's Corner column from Deep Saini - Oct. 8, 2021


To:                   The Dalhousie University community and our Halifax neighbours

From:             Frank Harvey, Provost and Vice-President Academic
                        Verity Turpin, Vice-Provost Student Affairs (Acting)

Date:               Thursday, October 7, 2021

Re:                   Update on university response to unsanctioned street parties

We are writing to update our Dalhousie community and our Halifax neighbours on the latest in our ongoing response to the unsanctioned street parties that took place in Halifax on Saturday, September 25. We have been clear and consistent, both before and after the events that day, that organizing and attending an unsanctioned and illegal street party is unacceptable, given our responsibilities to our shared Halifax community and our COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and related protocols.

Immediate actions taken

In our memo on Sunday, September 26, we strongly urged students who participated in the gatherings to stay away from campus and refrain from attending in-person classes as a precautionary measure to support the continued health and safety of our Dal community. We also asked residence students to not attend classes and limit their campus movement to dining halls. In addition, we asked all students who attended the parties to get tested for COVID-19. Testing on campus was up 76 per cent last week, with 7,501 tests distributed compared with 4,257 the week before.

Notifications were sent to students who we identified as attending the gatherings. These students received a directive that banned them from attending classes, on-campus activities, and formal and informal gatherings on campus, for a set period of time. They were not allowed to enter any buildings except for a COVID-19 testing site or test-kit pickup location. Students living in residence were limited to their residence and meal halls. This was done under Dalhousie’s general powers to ensure the health and safety of the faculty, staff and students on our campuses. The students’ compliance with that directive was monitored.

Actions under the Code of Student Conduct

We continue to review evidence and collect information as our investigation continues to inform Code of Student Conduct compliance and disciplinary measures. Appropriate action under the Code of Student Conduct will be taken based on our policy and the information we have collected throughout our investigation. Privacy obligations prevent us from reporting on specific actions taken under the Code of Student Conduct, specific disciplinary measures, or the number of students moving through this process.

Health and safety

As noted above, we asked all students who were in attendance at the street party not to take part in on-campus classes or activities during the week following the party and to get tested for COVID-19.

We continue to be appreciative of the vast majority of our Dal community who are fully vaccinated and continue to follow Dalhousie and Public Health guidance. Given the rise in cases in the Halifax area, it’s as important as ever for everyone to follow public and personal health best practices:

  • Take advantage of testing that’s available to you — even if you are fully vaccinated.
  • Complete your Campus Check if you haven’t done so — you’re required to do it
  • Continue to wear your mask in indoor common spaces
  • Consider avoiding large, informal gatherings – indoor or outdoor
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Stay home if you feel sick and seek out testing if you have COVID symptoms

Going forward

Dalhousie and our community partners have been reflecting on the events of September 25, and we've received many impassioned messages capturing the painful and intolerable experiences our neighbours and their familes suffered. We fully acknowledge the need for additional strategies. Our collective efforts to address this complex problem have been well-meaning but have not achieved the outcomes desired by our our neighbours, Dalhousie leaders, our entire community, and our larger student body.

The challenges we face did not emerge overnight and Dalhousie and Halifax are not alone. It is clear from this fall that communities and universities across the country are grappling with a social media-fueled party culture and a growing phenomenon of large, unsanctioned street parties. But as we engage our peers across the region and country, we must also act locally. To do that, we need to better engage our students in solutions and alternatives that support our entire community. And we must commit to innovative and creative thinking — the kind we inspire in our academic community each and every day — as we work with our partners to build a common roadmap and strengthen our collective impact in Halifax and our region.

The neighbourhood around Dalhousie is home — home to the students who come here from other parts of Nova Scotia, across Canada and around the world; home to the neighbours and their children who have resided on these streets for years; and home to those of us privileged to work at Dal. Maintaining a home is a shared responsibility for all who live there. Dalhousie is committed to our part in that responsibility, and to working with our students to ensure they understand their shared responsibilities as well.


Frank Harvey
Provost and Vice-President Academic           

Verity Turpin
Vice-Provost Student Affairs (Acting)

Dalhousie University is located in Mi'kma'ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi`kmaq. We are all treaty people.

We acknowledge the histories, contributions, and legacies of the African Nova Scotian people and communities who have been here for over 400 years.