STATEMENT FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA’S STUDENT UNION’S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE REGARDING PANDA GAME
As we know, we recently hosted the annual Panda Game. After yet another Gee-Gees win, Sandy Hill was home to many parties and gatherings. We must recognize that there was indeed harm and disruption caused to our local community.
The UOSU would also like to make it clear that it has opposed the increase police presence as a proposed solution by Councillors, the Mayor, and the Residents’ Association since the begining of this year’s Panda planning, and continues to oppose this. It is a shame, that once again, the student perspective was ignored and undermined. After the events of this weekend, it is clear that the police were not condusive to safer celebrations, nor did they eliminate disruptive behaviour. This increase in police presence served to intimidate, and made students, especially racialized students, feel unsafe. Instead of injecting police from across the province and country, the UOSU believes that public resources should be directed towards ensuring that celebrations can occur more safely. There should have been paramedics on standby to ensure community safety, portable toilets available to avoid bylaw infractions, and noise exemptions be made for house parties to divert unsafe numbers of students congregating on streets.
Students have been celebrating Panda since 1955, and we dont want to see this cherished tradition be cancelled, especially given the fact that cancelling the event would certainly be futile and ineffective. We know that partying in streets for homecoming weekends has marked the collective memory of students across the country, and that, despite the various steps taken, students will gather in streets to party. Across the country, attempts at cancelling homecoming games only leads to “focos” or fake homecoming celebrations being organised. The City and other stakeholders cannot try to ignore these problems, instead we must find more holistic solutions to the issues we are facing. Sandy Hill is a diverse community of residents which includes students, each with their own needs and perspectives. The UOSU Executive is committed to working with the community, as well as municipal leaders and the University, to find more holistic solutions moving forward.
The UOSU Executive Committee