As Acadia students continue to settle into the “new normal” at university, so do the residents of Wolfville as the students return to school… and to parties. The usual back-to-school parties this year are affecting residents of Wolfville, perhaps more than any previous years, due to new COVID-19 regulations, which are drawing students to gatherings off-campus. However, this raises more concerns than that of noise complaints.
In recent weeks, multiple students have been charged with liquor act tickets and parking tickets along with the noise bylaw tickets. However, the most concerning threat to the community is the large parties that are taking place during this global pandemic. Students hosting large parties are being fined under the Emergency Management Act, because they are not respecting the COVID-19 regulations that state that when social distancing is possible, people can gather in groups up to 50, and where it is not, in groups up to 10.
On the other hand, the majority of the Acadia students are taking the virus seriously and responsibly. A handful of students acting out should not affect the general opinion of students, of which the majority are active volunteers in the community and respectful neighbours. Brendan MacNeil, president of the Acadia Students Union, said in an interview with CBC that he, “thinks it’s unfair to the degree that students have been ubiquitously convicted of all being, you know, disrespectful and unconcerned and apathetic community members. I believe that there are only a very small minority of students that that would apply to”. However, everyone must be responsible for holding others accountable for their actions and the effects they have on not only the residents of Wolfville but the overall reputation of the student body and Acadia University as a whole.
In an effort to further educate students on the severity of the virus, the current mayor of Wolfville, Jeff Cantwell, addressed the matter in a very personable way during the month of September. He approached off-campus students by going door-to-door and having a reverent as well as dutiful conversation with them at their doorstep. While reactions varied, most students were impressed with the way that the mayor addressed the matter, Cantwell says in an interview with CBC.
Cantwell is approaching the end of his term, and the election for a new mayor is amongst us. Unfortunately, information has silently surfaced which suggests a dialogue about a disturbing way to end student partying antics. A very credible source, who wishes to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, has agreed to share a partial quote from a citizen of Wolfville who openly supports Wendy Donovan, a candidate for mayor in the election.
“Perhaps, we could plant borders of barberry bushes along the borders of residential properties that students use as thoroughfares”, said the supporter.
Barberry plants (scientific name: Berberis or Berberis vulgaris) are not only an invasive species, but they also have a significant tick presence, may cause diarrhea and vomiting if ingested, as well as having spiky thorns that can irritate skin and cause inflammation (Schmidt, Richard J. Ph.D., Botanical Dermatology Database.). Barberry plants are toxic to humans and invasive, yet one of Wendy Donovan’s supporters has suggested planting bundles of them in Wolfville, fully aware that students will more than likely be walking through them.
While it is incredibly important for students to be respectful neighbours and be aware of their parties and choices they make that affect the community, students trust that their leaders will also be protecting them. Cantwell succeeded in this when he had respectful and open conversations face to face with students about the impact of their party. The majority of students are responsible for parties, social-distancing, noise and property, however, there is still improvement needed among the few students who occasionally take it too far. This can be accomplished with the help of residents, the town, and Acadia staff and students – not by planting poisonous plants around Wolfville.