For the fifth year in a row—skipping the 2020 year of COVID lockdown—Dalhousie University students flooded the residential neighbourhood adjacent the school to celebrate Homecoming: a tribute to binge drinking, rooftop dancing and general debauchery. And for the fifth year in a row, the rest of the city is engaging in its annual exercise of berating, debating and finger pointing.
HoCo and its fallout are as much of a Halifax tradition now as losing power during good weather or complaining about snow clearing. Like all good Halifax groan-fests, nothing seems to actually change. The power still goes out, we still can’t use the sidewalks after a snowfall and some drunk 19-year-old will still piss on your lawn.
This year's HoCo was a little bit different though. Partiers never lit a bonfire in the middle of the street before—other iterations didn’t provide easy access to kindling in the form of trees downed by a hurricane a week prior. And nobody has gotten stabbed at a hoco party before. To put it simply, #dalhoco2022 was a colossal mess.
On Monday, we surveyed our readers: Who is most at fault for the HoCo fiasco? Was it the students, for their selfishness and destructiveness? Was it Dalhousie, for either not taking enough disciplinary action or not giving students a place to party, washing their hands of the situation? Maybe it was the Halifax Regional Police, who in some people's eyes went too far—wrestling students to the ground and pepper spraying them—and in others’ eyes didn’t do enough to enforce the laws of the land. Or is it late-night convenience store pizza we should blame for it all?
We received 3,087 responses to the poll across on our website, Twitter and Instagram. Combining all the results, 28% of respondents said Dalhousie should be held responsible, 61% said the students are most at fault, 6% said the HRP is to blame and the convenience stores received 4% of the votes.
The responses to our website poll were the most anti-student of the bunch—with students receiving 73% of the votes—compared to Twitter, where students received 52% of the votes.
For some of our readers, the responsibility belongs to a group outside of the four options we gave. One commenter on our website said the blame is on “the parents who did not teach their children how to behave with respect for others.” On Instagram, Joana Bull said the problem actually lies with American cultural dominance: HoCo “wasn’t even a thing a few years ago, an example of USA culture coming up here via movies,” they wrote. Or perhaps the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. “We are all to blame,” Brandon Blades wrote on Facebook. “We glorify alcohol. We post social media posts praising the destructive vice.”
Some say HoCo is no big deal. “Just let them have their fun, it’s just one night,” wrote Peggy Joyce on Instagram. Students will be students, and students like to party. As Hannah wrote, “Unless they are given somewhere else to party, this will never stop.”