Rise in O-Week safety measures

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Move-in day will signal the arrival of Orientation Week and 4,500 first year students. As activities commence, Waterloo Regional Police Service, Special Constable Service, volunteers and security will join together in an effort to give students the best — and safest — O-Week they can.

Safety procedures will kick off during move-in days with Spruce Street from Hickory Street to Columbia Street becoming a one-way heading north, with the same information applying to Lester Street from Seagram Street to Columbia again. Waterloo Regional Police Service will be positioned at both locations to ensure things run smoothly.

“We want to ensure the safety of all students,” explained Michael Onabolu, CEO and president of Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union. “These students are responsible adults and they’re coming to an environment that is new to them. So having people around that can direct them on campus and ensure that they feel safe, and secure is of the utmost importance.”

The on-campus celebration will also see a few changes in response to minor alcohol-related issues that occurred last year.

Phil Champagne, the program services manager for WLUSU at the Waterloo Campus, explained the new changes that will be put in place.

“We are working with Waterloo Region EMS and they’ll be setting up a triage style tent in front of Willison Hall,” stated Champagne. “In the event that we have a lot of students indulging in adult beverages a little more than they can handle, we don’t have to call ambulances. So, we’re not necessarily a burden to the region in the way that we were last year.”

Champagne also addressed issues that arose at the Year End Party (YEP) last April by explaining that more measures will be put in place to ensure proper security and avoid major issues from occurring again. At YEP, 14 Laurier students were charged by the Ontario Provincial Police in violation of the Private Security and Investigative Services Act (PSISA) for unlicensed security. They were working illegally in both the Turret and Wilf’s, which resulted in 33 charges being laid.

“We have increased the amount of paid licensed security that we are hiring to come in specifically for [the On-Campus Celebration] to try and avoid those situations,” he stated.

In Boot Camp, volunteers have been instructed to not engage in any dangerous situations they witness and instead alert the proper authorities.

Special Constable Services will also work to ensure the safety of students during  O-Week.

“We’ll be out there and we’re ready to respond to any danger that comes on campus or any concern or problem. We just want to make sure it’s a safe night for everyone,” said director of Special Constable Services, Rod Curran, who will be bringing five extra special constables to the on-campus celebration.

“I just wish that they have a good time all week,” commented Curran. “And if they need any help, [to] just give us a call.”

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