Dalhousie trying to deter ‘toxic party lifestyle’ in off-campus parties

Student leaders and administrators at Dalhousie University are asking people to stay away from off-campus parties promoted by a social media account, saying they don’t want a “toxic party lifestyle” taking root at the school.

“We are deeply concerned about the reckless ambition and influence of Canadian Party Life as well as the few members of our student community who are participating in or supporting these efforts as local organizers,” wrote Rick Ezekiel, vice-provost of student affairs, in a memo to students last week.

 “The negative impact of these events are felt by both the Dalhousie and surrounding Halifax communities.”

Canadian Party Life is an Instagram account with more than half a million followers. It promotes parties and shares content directly aimed at university students, including videos and photos of stunts like crowd surfing on a door.

Last September, hundreds of students wearing Dalhousie merchandise took to the streets close to campus to take part in an unsanctioned “homecoming” street party.

The city councillor for the area described it as a “mob of people in near-riot conditions.”  Ten people were arrested for public intoxication. 

Dal U Party Life is a local, private Instagram account which appears to promote university partying at Dalhousie University in Halifax. (Instagram)

Another unsanctioned “HOCO” party is planned for this weekend and Ezekiel sent out a memo last week warning students to stay away. 

“Through its Instagram account, Canadian Party Life is making efforts to cultivate and profit from a toxic party lifestyle and competition among Canadian university students, including Dalhousie students,” he wrote. “This includes the orchestration and promotion of large, illegal street parties.”

Ezekiel said he’s not so naive to think students aren’t partying, but it’s the size and scope of the street parties promoted by Canadian Party Life that are worrying.

“Canadian Party Life in particular is actually encouraging universities to compete against each other and sort of pitting these really, really challenging and sometimes dangerous behaviours … jumping off roofs or consuming excessive alcohol,” he said. “So we felt the need to name that we do think it’s harmful.” 

First-year Dalhousie student Sam Petrov says he’s seen parties already this year where people were jumping off pillars and doing backflips. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

Sam Petrov, a first-year student, said he’s witnessed parties this year where people have been hurt.

He said he’s worried there will be more injuries at this weekend’s event.

“People want to have fun, but [it] ends up with someone getting hurt and it’s not fun anymore,” he said.

It’s not clear who runs the Canadian Party Life account or its local offshoot, Dal U Party Life. No one from Canadian Party Life returned messages.

Dalhousie Student Union president Aparna Mohan said the page motivates students to make a spectacle of themselves for “street cred,” and most of the participants aren’t concerned about consequences.

Aparna Mohan is the president of the Dalhousie Student Union. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

“The people who are able to afford to go to the extremes that you have seen are usually privileged in many ways,” said Mohan.

“They belong to the highest socioeconomic brackets, they’re able to afford the fines that they’re being asked to pay, and they don’t have the same relationship with the police that less racially privileged groups would.” 

She said students are anxious to get back together and the students union proposed a sanctioned, on–campus homecoming event, but it couldn’t happen this year. Mohan said she’s hoping it will happen next year.

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