Earlier today I made an announcement that I think a lot of people have been waiting for: we’re bringing back fall homecoming. Things will officially get underway this October – and I have to tell you, I’m really looking forward to it. It will be really wonderful to be able to welcome Alumni back to Queen’s in a way that we haven’t done for a few years.
As you may already know, it was my predecessor, Principal Tom Williams, who first made the difficult decision to suspend Homecoming in 2008, after an unsanctioned street party became a serious threat to the safety of our students, alumni and the wider Kingston community. In order to insure the continued decline of unsafe activities, in particular the street party, I extended that suspension in 2010.
I know how important fall reunions are for our community, but the decision to reinstate Homecoming isn’t one I’ve made lightly. After all, safety always trumps tradition, and this case was no exception. But I have to tell you that I’ve felt encouraged by the good judgment people have been showing when gathering informally in the years since our annual event was put on hold. That’s what has allowed me to get the ball rolling on this.
Naturally, over the last year and a bit, more than a few meetings have occurred on this issue. I’ve worked with the university’s Office of Advancement and the Queen’s University Alumni Association, along with the Rector and student leaders from the AMS, the SGPS, and the QSAA to imagine just what this event could be. Kingston Police, Emergency Services and city residents have all had their say too. I’m grateful, too, that the Mayor and the City of Kingston have been open to discussion Homecoming’s return.
Though our Homecoming event will continue to celebrate the best of Queen’s spirit, as it always has, there will be a few changes this year. Most notably, the event will now be held over two weekends in October, rather than one. This year, we’ll be celebrating on October 4th-6th and October 18th-20th. Each weekend will feature its own signature events for Alumni. Alongside programming for students, faculties and the rest of the Kingston community. Of course, both weekends will feature a home football game. We’re also hoping that by spreading the celebrating out over a few weeks, it will ease the pressure on local hotels and restaurants trying to accommodate so many returning alumni.
I’m feeling really optimistic and excited about Homecoming’s return. Queen’s is all about tradition, and this is one of the great ones. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to carry it on for years to come. That said, Homecoming’s success will absolutely depend on the full and continued cooperation of our entire community – students, alumni and Kingston residents alike. Let’s work together to make Queen’s Homecoming something both the university and the city can be proud of.