Hundreds of unmasked students were partying on campus, three days before classes start
Classes don’t officially start until Wednesday, but many students at UVic are already keen to meet their peers in person. Some of them were so keen that they decided to head to an outdoor party between some of the residence buildings.
Videos from the event show hundreds of unmasked people crowded into a small outdoor space. In one Snapchat video, people are seen climbing on a residence building and snapping a selfie as the crowd cheers them on.
The party started around 10 p.m. Although Saanich Police Department (Saanich PD) and Campus Security were on scene, they did not shut down the party right away. At 11pm, it was still going on. A media representative from Saanich PD said the crowd was approximately 800-1 000 people.
Saanich PD said they issued two tickets under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. Their media representative added that there are currently no restrictions on indoor or outdoor gatherings.
“The majority of the individuals last night were cooperative and respectful, however, as usual, there were some that were not,” the media representative said. “The crowds were larger than anticipated and additional officers did attend to assist.”
After the party, UVic issued a statement urging students to not gather in large groups.
“The start of term is an exciting time on a university campus and building new social connections is a critical part of that experience,” said Jim Dunsdon, associate vice-president of Student Affairs. “By holding or attending large, unstructured parties, students increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Their behaviour is unacceptable and puts at risk students, our employees, our instructors, and our local community.”
Students living in residence this year need to be partially vaccinated by Sept. 7. Their vaccination status was checked when they moved in.
But the party on Sunday night was not an organized event, so anyone could walk up and join the crowd. There were people there that didn’t live in residence and no one was checking vaccination status.
UVic students also partied last year during the first week of classes. At that time, however, there were only 700 people living on campus. This year, there are 2 100.
Sam Morrow, a first-year engineering student living in residence, said it was impossible to ignore the large crowd. He said he couldn’t walk out of his building without being a part of it.
“It was a totally crazy experience to walk outside…[and] see the biggest crowd that you’ve seen in over two years,” Morrow said.
Although Morrow spoke to a few people outside of the entrance to his building, he says he spent most of the evening away from the crowd.
“It’s already a bad idea to just go totally crazy,” Morrow added. “It was enough to witness it from an outside perspective because it was pretty crazy.”