Managing a safe O-Week

As first years flood into Wilfrid Laurier University’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses this week, parents will be sitting at home biting their nails worrying about their naive offspring and their new ‘frosh life’. Well, thanks to hundreds of volunteers and some very dedicated university employees, parents and friends need not worry.

The Cord spoke with Director of Special Constable Services (SCS) Roderick Curran for more on how SCS is helping keep everyone safe during O-Week. “Students are young adults when they come here,” he said. “They are sort of their own liquor control board; I think most students are pretty respectable with alcohol.”

In terms of additional campus safety, Curran mentioned the improvements SCS has made over the summer and those especially for O-Week.

“We have about a hundred more cameras on campus, and during O-Week especially at the [on-campus] party I’ll be bringing in five extra officers,” he said. “And we’re hiring off-duty Waterloo Region police officers. The Waterloo Regional Police Service will be around the area too and they have a zero tolerance kind of alcohol policy.”

As with past years, Foot Patrol will be shifting additional volunteers and providing longer service hours to get O-Week participants home safely after activities. Chandler Jolliffe, co-ordinator of Foot Patrol, has made special initiatives for O-Week.

“We are definitely going to be ramping up our team count during O-Week,” said Jolliffe.

“We patrol for all the major events, especially the on-campus party, we will have over 30 teams and two dispatchers who will be working from nine until our phone stops ringing. It’s nice [to have that service] on those evenings, especially when there’s going to be 3,000 students on campus,” continued Jolliffe.

In terms of alcohol and drug use during O-Week, the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU) has a clear policy on that: “We’re obligated under Foot Patrol policy and under WLUSU policy to inform dons if the person is intoxicated. It’s really just liability on both our and the residence’s part,” said Jolliffe.

Jolliffe noted that if Foot Patrol is walking an intoxicated student back to their residence and if anything happens to them then they would be legally liable. However, Foot Patrol stresses to first years that they are not there to get students in trouble and will only contact residence life dons in the event of an unsafe situation.

Nick Gibson, president and CEO of WLUSU, explained why O-Week events continue to be dry, “The biggest thing for us is providing a very safe environment to integrate first- year students into the community. Whether it’s the Waterloo campus or the Brantford campus, we provide programming relatively early in the morning to relatively late at night.”

“We’re not babying them, but it’s a totally new environment and lifestyle, and we don’t want them to put themselves in volatile situations,” added Gibson.

WLUSU expects over 3,000 students to attend the on-campus party, which will be the test of all these security measures and of Foot Patrol’s new GPS dispatch system.