C/O Andrew Mrozowski

While there may be an explanation for unruly students, they sure aren’t blameless

By: Zara Khan, Contributor

University entails huge transitions, from moving out to becoming fully independent. Students become able to make their own decisions and set their own bedtime. They become able to make decisions on whether or not they spend the night out or stay inside. In the end, you realize that your day-to-day choices are now entirely up to you, with the only exception being the people around you who influence your decision-making process.. That sounds pretty exciting if you think about it, but what if this excitement leads to decisions that end up wrecking your entire future career? 

Insert McMaster’s homecoming party, also termed FOCO. It was quite the scene when looking at it from an outsider’s perspective. From the perspective of a first-year student going with no experience of such an event, it may have looked intimidating, but perhaps also fun and enticing to be a part of. 

Any students who may have missed out may well have silently thanked their decision after hearing about the events that occured. First-year Ashley Hogan’s car — a white Mazda — was flipped over and completely totalled. Ashley was away on a rowing competition and heard about the event on social media, with a GoFundMe page started by her friend having received over $10,000 in donations. During the unsanctioned celebration, people were disturbing homeowners and entering random backyards in the area. Others were ripping out street signs, jumping from tree to tree trying to cross the road, littering and lifting people with shopping carts inside them as well. Two individuals were charged under the Liquor License Act and five others for causing a disturbance. 

The general motivation behind such an event was clearly hopes of enjoying the first homecoming event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. From my own observations, many off-campus houses were also throwing their own parties, though they didn’t come close to the degree of property damage that ensued at the ‘FOCO’ party. 

While such rhetoric may be understandable to a certain degree, the extent of the damage and harm caused by some of the events at ‘FOCO’ are quite frankly way over the line. There were indeed many challenges faced by students over the past year, including online classes, but the fact that students are “back” on campus does not give them the right to engage in the destructive acts that took place during McMaster’s homecoming party.

This also applies to students at other universities. The effects of isolation on the brain are still being studied, with frustration and a decrease in mental health commonly discussed in studies. In fact, loneliness has been found to reduce brain volumes in the prefrontal cortex, a region important in decision making and social behavior, although other research suggests this relationship might be mediated by personality factors as well.

With all this being said, going out every once in a while because of the feeling of finally being “free” and not having to quarantine anymore is totally acceptable as long as you follow the law and stay safe. I’d advise not doing anything that would put your future at risk and tapping into that rational part of your brain that helps with making decisions in times like these. As students, we are becoming responsible for our own decisions and it is important to use this privilege ethically. 

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