The people behind Foot Patrol
Laurier’s Foot Patrol walks home more students per year than any other university in Canada. With over 153 active volunteers, Foot Patrol boasts an involvement of over 1% of the undergraduate student body. The Cord took a deeper look at what happens behind the scenes at the Foot Patrol office in 24 Lounge.
This year over 360 students applied to be volunteers. “I’ll give credit to the first year students, they really want to get involved.” Says Katie Campbell, Foot Patrol’s volunteer coordinator. Every night Foot Patrol walks home 50-60 students. “That’s more than most campuses do in a year.” According to Campbell, each new Foot Patrol volunteer automatically gains 150 new best friends in what is affectionately known as the Foot Family.
A visit to the Foot Patrol office is all that’s needed to understand the appeal of being a volunteer. The office comes equipped with a TV, board games and couches. Not that much TV watching is going on. With so many foot patrol staff on shift and so many Laurier students using the service the office is constantly abuzz.
According to Marc Lebel, the volunteer liaison for Foot Patrol, “We see a lot of our volunteers who have roommates that joined Foot.” Foot Patrol volunteers commit to one four hour shift per week, one meeting every other week and socials. “The appeal for Foot Patrol is that it’s not a huge commitment.” Campbell adds. Foot Patrol shifts start at 6:30 pm, 9:30 pm and 11pm and end at 11pm, 1am and 3am respectively. Foot Patrol also offers a student run bus service that will drive students home in the Kitchener/Waterloo region.
And Foot Patrol doesn’t discriminate. “We get students from McMaster, Western, wherever, who are just visiting our campus.” Lebel exclaims. Campbell goes on to add, “We don’t refuse anyone a walk, we’re here for everybody. That goes for our van too. We’ll drive anybody.”
The busiest nights for foot patrol are Charity Ball, the IRC formal, and Halloween. On most nights however the wait times are nil. Lebel deadpans, “You have to wait for a team to get to you, that’s it.” Even if a Laurier student is having a bad night, most will appreciate being walked home. “99% of the time they’re not mad at us, even if they got kicked out of the bar, they’re happy that we’re taking them home.”
Campbell joined foot patrol because as she states it, she “wasn’t really involved at Laurier”. It’s been a rewarding experience she says. One thank you message in particular stated, ‘You’re my guardian angels’. “The most rewarding thing about Foot Patrol is knowing we’re making a difference.” Mark adds. “We’re getting people home. We’re making sure that the community is safe.”