You can kiss those crowds of 12,000 that Queen's regularly has its Homecoming game goodbye.
The university, bowing to paranoia, today took the easy way out with its problem of the quote, unquote illegal street party that has become part of the Homecoming weekend. In order to keep students from seeing Homecoming as a reason to party -- ha! -- they have moved alumni weekend to spring and will hold their 2009 homecoming weekend from May 22-24.
The impact on the football Golden Gaels will be devastating. The Homecoming game sets the tone for the entire season. It is also a valuable recruiting chip for coach Pat Sheahan -- look at the crowds you'll play in front of. You lose the Homecoming game, you're cutting yourself out of a major market.
The weekend itself, with the parade of alumni, some in the their 80s and 90s, around the stadium at halftime, is the best part of homecoming. That's gone, and with it, so are those those crowds of 12,000 people. Does Queen's principal Tom Williams understand that?
This is an all-time knee-jerk reaction. To quote Chris Hitchens, zero tolerance means zero thought. The weekend's purpose is to engage alumni and current students. What are alumni going "home" to when the campus is a ghost town because 98% of the undergraduates have gone home for the summer?
For this alumnus, a fond Queen's memory is being in the front row on the student side at Homecoming 1997, high-fiving and shaking hands with graduates from as far back as 1937 during the halftime parade. University can make you feel like a number. That day, for a few minutes, I was connected to something larger than myself.
Queen's Athletics will no doubt try to fill the void, and I'll support them in any way I can. Today, though, the university has thrown that away. What a terrible message. Who is benefiting from this decision? Tom Williams, the Kingston Police and some beancounters at City Hall. Not the students, not the alumni and certainly not the Queen's Golden Gaels football team, which has brought the university so much publicity through the years.
Queen's University moves Homecoming from fall to spring (Kingston Whig-Standard)
(Cross-posted to Out of Left Field.)