Calls grow for Fredericton universities to tackle destructive off-campus parties

After living across the street from the University of New Brunswick campus for 23 years, Jocelyn Weirath-Mueller is considering selling her home and moving elsewhere in the city.

For years, September has marked the return of students to the campuses of UNB and St. Thomas University, as well as the big parties typically held off-campus on what students call the weekend. reunions.

But what she’s seen this year has tested her tolerance for large crowds, loud music, broken bottles and disorderly behavior on and around her street in Fredericton.

‘We’ve had incidents before, but never anything like what happened last weekend,’ she said, speaking inside her home on Windsor Street, near the corner from Kings College Road.

On Saturday evening, Weirath-Mueller said Windsor Street, just north of her home, was blocked by dozens of people gathered outside a house where a party was being held.

A large outdoor party blocked traffic on Windsor Street on Saturday evening, said Jocelyn Weirath-Mueller, who lives in a house just south of where it was held. (Aidan Cox/CBC)

The size of the party and the fact that it closed Windsor Street was disturbing, but she said her concerns grew when she learned days later that a young man had been sent to hospital in critical condition after being assaulted there.

“When I heard there was violence… I definitely think the university professors or the administration should do something about it. You know, talk to the students.

“And if they don’t comply, you know, then they shouldn’t be in college. There should be some respect, you know, for people who live near college.”

3 men charged with assault

The Fredericton Police Force says three men have been charged with aggravated assault on a 20-year-old man at the Windsor Street party in the early hours of Sunday morning. One of the three was also charged with uttering threats.

Police spokeswoman Sonya Gilks, in an email, said ‘a large crowd’ had gathered on Windsor Street during and after the homecoming events when the assault took place .

“We know that when large crowds gather and groups of people drink, things can escalate, as we saw in the serious assault that took place over the weekend,” Gilks ​​said.

Gilks ​​said she could not name the three accused men because they had not yet appeared in court, but added that they were not students at either UNB or STU.

An earlier police press release said the three men had been conditionally released and would appear in court in December.

Gilks ​​said police are continuing to investigate the incident and expect to bring further charges in relation to it.

“We want to assure residents of the area that there will be zero tolerance for those who engage in criminal behavior in the area, so we have increased patrols, we continue to work with our community partners and we encourage anyone who notices disturbances to contact the police,” she said.

CBC News has reached out to both universities for comment.

In an email, UNB spokeswoman Heather Campbell said last weekend’s events were not university-sanctioned and not all revelers were UNB-related.

Still, she said the university had taken steps to curb the kind of behavior seen last weekend by “reminding all students of their responsibility to the community, encouraging them to participate in campus activities and discouraging unruly behavior”.

Campbell said UNB is working with other post-secondary institutions and city partners on initiatives such as providing dumpsters to remove old furniture, which can be used for fires.

Remains of burnt furniture on Graham Avenue are still visible from previous weeks. (Aidan Cox/CBC)

“This is definitely not behavior we condone. We encourage students to respect their neighbors and have a code of conduct that we expect them to adhere to.”

STU spokesman Jeffrey Carleton said in an email that the university was “very concerned about the issues” in the College Hill area.

He said students are subject to a university code of conduct, which President Dawn Russell reminded them of after an earlier incident in September involving fires on Graham Avenue and people interfering with emergency responders.

“We have made it clear that these off-campus incidents are subject to our student conduct policies,” he said.

“This encompasses actions that endanger the health, safety and well-being of other people, property damage, criminal code or other violations.”

Ben King, a third-year student at STU, said he briefly attended the party on Windsor Street with friends on Saturday night.

“It was… well over 100 people right in the middle of the street, like just a giant group of people who were obviously drinking right outside the house where the main party was being held, and they were completely in the street” , he said.

Ben King, a third-year student at St. Thomas University, says police could have acted sooner to disperse a large crowd blocking Windsor Street on Saturday night. (Aidan Cox/CBC)

King said he lived on Graham Avenue, known for the annual ritual of students burning an old couch in the middle of the road the first weekend after classes start.

He said the party on Graham Avenue and Hanson and Kitchen streets has become part of university “culture”, but he acknowledges that the past weekend signals a need for action by universities.

“They could definitely take a more proactive role and I know that every year when new students come to STU…there’s, like, a student orientation that you can choose to take, and I feel like that’s they included a part about, like, off-campus culture… that could definitely improve the situation.

King said police could have stepped up their response Saturday night as well, noting that officers were monitoring the crowd but appeared to allow it to grow to the point of blocking the street.

“With a giant event like homecoming, it’s definitely very crowded, and they should definitely try to disperse people so traffic can flow.”

Broken bottles in the play area of ​​the daycare center

Scanning the playground for broken glass and beer cans has become a new task for staff at Windsor Street Preschool.

June Dunphy, senior administrator at the preschool, says staff now have to regularly check for broken glass in their playground. (Aidan Cox/CBC)

It was a task they had to undertake after classes resumed the first weekend, said June Dunphy, the daycare’s senior administrator.

“Well, my problem is, it’s when they’re in our yard and they’re breaking glass and whatever, I mean, it’s gravel. You can’t really, you know, pick that up. a quantity, right?” said Dunphy.

“And I mean, we go out and clean up, but…if you missed something, that could be a big deal.”

Dunphy said that in previous years staff had never noticed anything worse than a missing exterior sign.

However, this year, in addition to littering the playground, someone tried to light a fire on the staff picnic table.

Dunphy said the daycare could start locking the doors to the playground, but also thinks campus security should be involved when there are no staff.

“They should be responsible for calling someone and saying, ‘OK, we have to break this. It gets a little out of control, “especially when they’re partying at the daycare center across the road.”