A look back at the safety of HoCo In response to past critiques, the board of directors attempted to improve security during Homecoming

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In response to the underrepresentation of reps and security staff at Post Malone, the McMaster Students Union beefed up security for Lil Yachty and the Strumbellas.

The call for the MSU to update students about its increased security measures came when Sabra Salim, caucus leader (Science), put forward a motion at the Student Representative Assembly on Sept. 24.

While the initial motion asked the board to outline what changes they were making to Homecoming and other events, the amended motion that passed asked that the MSU release a statement before Homecoming highlighting all safety measures.

“The changes made for Homecoming in light of Post Malone are absolutely necessary,” said Salim. “It is our responsibility as a union to fill in the gaps by the university. Whether this looks like having a chill zone by [the MSU Women and Gender Equity Network], having more and better quality security or more [Emergency Medical Services] on-site, it is a pre-requisite for the MSU to learn from what hasn’t worked before so as to improve,”

In the Sept. 28 issue of the Silhouette, Chukky Ibe, MSU president, outlined the board’s efforts to improve Homecoming security. A notable change included the moving of concert grounds away from Faculty Hollow to John Hodgkins Engineering Field, accommodating for the expected increase in students.

“We have been working closely with McMaster Security Services and Hamilton Police Services to double the amount of security staff present at the venue, ensuring that students have a safe environment to enjoy the concerts,” said Ibe.

The board was also able to ensure that the MSU Emergency First Response Team was supported by Hamilton EMS, volunteers from MSU WGEN were available to assist students and staff from Campus Events and volunteers from the Maroons received bystander intervention training prior to Homecoming.

In addition, D’Souza was unable to speak to how police and security staff were trained to handle disclosures and causes of assault.

“At Lil Yachty, there were a lot more cops on campus and near the venue,” said Faris Mecklai, a first-year arts and science student who saw both Post Malone and Lil Yachty perform.

It should be noted, however, that Ibe did not provide specific numbers in his letter. The numbers of security staff, on-site EMS, volunteers and police present at the concerts, for instance, were omitted. In addition, aside from noting that the MSU was working to double the amount of security at Homecoming, Ibe did not explicitly compare security numbers to those at Post Malone.

When repeatedly asked for a comparative quantitative breakdown of the number of security staff, on-site EMS and police officers at the homecoming concerts, Daniel Tuba D’Souza, vice president (Finance), repeated Ibe word-for-word, not disclosing any numbers.

In addition, D’Souza was unable to speak to how police and security staff were trained to handle disclosures and causes of assault.

The board’s lack of transparency may not be the only indication that the MSU could have done more to maximize student safety last weekend. During his show, Lil Yachty told all the women in the audience who wore a C-cup bra size to directly message him.

“It was really weird after Lil Yachty’s C-cup remarks as he blatantly said he wanted to sleep with Mac students,” said Mecklai, who notes that the MSU or the university should have communicated with Lil Yachty prior to the concert.

“At that point I was really creeped out…. I didn’t feel unsafe but I’m a guy and I’m not sure how girls in the crowd felt.”

While its efforts to improve security at Homecoming made a tangible difference, the MSU needs to continue to increase transparency and communication.

 

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Author: Cassidy Bereskin

Cassidy is a first year Social Science student hoping to major in Political Science. She loves bubble tea, coffee, Hamilton (the musical AND our city) and reading through Twitter threads.

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