Western University outreach aims to strengthen links between scholars and city

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Almost overnight, London’s population will jump by more than a tenth in size. The 50,000 additional residents bring not only a jolt of life to the city but also the concerns that stem from the resettling of a populace roughly the size of Greenland’s.

The bulk of those students will settle in north London, near or on campus at Western University. Thousands of Fanshawe students will also move in to areas close to its campuses in northeast London and downtown.

Western campus community police service Staff Sgt. J.C. Aubin says preparation is crucial to dealing with the surge of students.

“If you prepare properly, usually the issues are kept to a minimum,” Aubin said.

Tobi Solebo, president of the University Students’ Council of Western, hopes early community outreach by Western students helps the relationship between year-round Londoners and the temporary residents get off to the right start.

First-year students will acquaint themselves with London by volunteering for non-profit organizations in the city through Orientation Serves on Sept. 9.

“I think it’s going to show the positive message that Western students are Londoners as well and that we really do appreciate the community here that supports us,” Solebo said.

Aubin said the incidents that usually spike on campus when students return — bike thefts and alcohol related incidents — are less serious than what happens off-campus in London.

“It’s much safer on campus. We have fewer assaults and fewer serious incidents,” Aubin says.

“The London Police Service’s primary concern is public safety. We deal yearly with issues surrounding alcohol-related offences, disturbances, assaults, property damage and excessive noise,” London Police spokesperson Const. Sandasha Bough says.

After orientation week it’s typical party days – homecoming, Halloween and Saint Patrick’s Day — that are most concerning for Western’s campus police.

“Any of these dates we’ll make sure to have additional coverage and officers out in vehicles, on foot and on bicycle patrol so they’re out their to help deter (negative incidents),” Aubin said.

Western tried to downplay Homecoming weekend last year by scheduling the reunion weekend and the homecoming football game on separate weekends.

The result was tamer celebrations on Broughdale Avenue, where parties had raged out of control.

Reunion and homecoming will be celebrated together again this year with homecoming Saturday falling on October 22.


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