Moving away from home, university students experience their first taste of personal freedom. However, having the power to do what they want does not excuse students being disrespectful to others. A drunken fight on Oct. 4 between two students in the Milton-Parc area resulted in $500 in damages to a family’s only car. This incident brought McGill students under fire once again for showing a lack of consideration for their neighbours and shared spaces. Students and organizations at McGill must hold themselves accountable when living and partying in the Milton-Parc neighbourhood and maintain a higher standard of respect for their neighbours.
Milton-Parc has been a student neighbourhood for several decades. Since the 1960s, students have become a significant portion of the area’s residents, leading to corporate gentrification, which sparked increasingly unaffordable rent costs and the replacement of historic homes with fraternity houses and condos. This influx of McGill students shifted the atmosphere of the neighborhood, some residents would say for the worse. Complaints by non-students highlight the sense of entitlement and disrespect by students and organizations toward their neighbours. Residents’ grievances have ranged from students being disruptive into the early morning hours, to excessive littering, and inconsiderate acts like urinating on residents’ property.
Party culture in the area seems to be the root of many disruptions. With several fraternities calling the neighbourhood home, drinking events are an ever-present reality. Moreover, faculty-and student-run events like Frosh, Hype Week, Faculty Olympics and apartment crawls, which often take place in or around the Milton-Parc area, lead to hordes of drunken students wandering the streets, which can result in accidental or reckless damage to others’ property. Party culture also contributes to excessive amounts of littered bottles, cans, and cigarette butts on sidewalks and lawns.
“Students and organizations at McGill must hold themselves accountable when living and partying in the Milton-Parc neighbourhood and maintain a higher standard of respect for their neighbours.”
Event organizers have taken steps to address the issues that arise from drinking events. For example, faculties dispatch Street Teams during Frosh week to manage intoxicated students as they pass through the neighbourhood. The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) also tries to control apartment crawls by requiring hosts to have liquor licenses and complete server training. However, rather than mitigating disruptions to the community, this restriction merely limits the number of clubs willing to go through the process required to host a crawl by SSMU’s rules.
It is incumbent on student organizations to hold themselves accountable during parties. If a club has a history of damaging private or public property, failing to make changes to their rules or practices is negligent. Some ways student organizations could be more courteous to Milton-Parc residents are by putting more effort into planning crowd control procedures and having stricter consequences if partygoers fail to respect neighbours at drinking events.
It also falls on student organizations to find ways to encourage proper waste-disposal, or at the very least have thorough cleanups after events. A portion of entry or participation fees for larger events like hype week should be reserved for fixing damages and ensuring public spaces are tidied after events.
SSMU should also take steps to address the issue. Incorporating tips on how to be respectful of neighbours and others’ property into server training would give hosts the skills to have more respectful parties. Moreover, SSMU must be stricter when holding clubs accountable. If certain clubs or faculties repeatedly cause serious damage and disruption, SSMU should levy consequences, including revoking alcohol privileges.
Students who do not take part in organized drinking events can still find ways to be better neighbours. In the past, some McGill courses in the Quebec Studies department make students volunteer in Montreal. These types of community engagement projects help students connect with their neighbours and be better citizens.
Simple things like joining a clean-up, finding out when garbage day is to avoid unnecessary trash on the sidewalks, or just saying ‘hi’ to a neighbour can make students better community members. On moving day, students should make use of services like Trash2Treasure to get rid of unwanted furniture in a sustainable way. When hosting a party, students can use online networks like Nextdoor.ca or leave a note in next-door mailboxes to let neighbours know their plans and invite them to share their feedback. Simple acts go a long way in making others feel respected and heard in their communities.
McGill students will continue to cohabitate with others in Milton-Parc. As part of the broader Montreal community, SSMU and McGill’s student organizations have a responsibility to control and mitigate the damages caused to the Milton-Parc community during McGill drinking events. Moreover, beyond McGill-organized events, student tenants should make an effort to engage with their community and be better Milton-Parc neighbours.
For those who are interested in donating, the GoFundMe to help cover the car damages sustained by the Milton-Parc family is still active.