By Rebecca Abelson
Discussions around campus safety have permeated the agendas of several of the McMaster Students Union presidential platforms. Shaarujaa Nadarajah, Patricia Kousoulas and Aquino Inigo are the three out of six candidates who have proposed various avenues to implement newfound security practices. These efforts have both yearlong and exam-time applications.
A nightly shuttle bus service is one of the more notable programs put forth. All three candidates propose a shuttle bus service that will transport students during late exam hours to their respective neighbourhoods. This will act as an extension of the Student Walk Home Attendant Team, which currently operates from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. every day by providing students with a safe, reliable form of transportation after hours. Nadarajah’s platform discusses campus safety in tandem with the prevention of sexual violence, and the implementation of the shuttle service is rightly considered.
Under Kousoulas’s platform point of “Feeling Well,” she highlights the importance of providing extra support to students during exam time. The shuttle bus proposition complements her objectives by alleviating the fears associated with late nights on campus.
In doing so, students would be able to avoid long waits at distant bus stops, cold walks home and unwanted catcalling. The shuttle system is a feasible on-campus resource that can be used to improve the academic and personal well-being of McMaster students.
In a similar vein, Inigo’s platform also proposes a call-in service where students can contact a volunteer to accompany them on the phone during their walks home. Like the shuttle bus, this call-in service acts as an extension of SWHAT by allowing students to have contact with a trained volunteer during the later hours of the night. Expanding familiar campus services is an excellent way to incorporate students into new security initiatives.
McMaster students must be able to rely on their university and the support it provides.
In addition, the propositions put forth also tend to the security of the volunteers by creating additional avenues for safe commutes. In the case of the shuttle bus program, SWHAT volunteers would be able to use the service after late nights spent serving McMaster students.
Increased lighting in poorly lit student neighbourhoods is another focal point of Inigo’s platform. By working with Ward 1 councillor Aidan Johnson and SWHAT, student neighbourhoods lacking sufficient lighting are promised to be identified and made more visible. This would contribute to feelings of safety and security among the student-body.
From the initiatives explored, it becomes apparent that all three candidates emphasize the value of harm prevention. Through the implementation of bus services, call-in programs and brighter neighbourhoods, the presidential candidates aim to reduce the likelihood of assault by taking preventative action. These activities exemplify the active pursuit of MSU candidates in eliminating widespread issues within university campuses.
As an off-campus student, I’d argue that on and off-campus security should continue to be at the forefront of presidential campaigns. Since most students live off campus, it is integral that their safety needs are not overlooked. The route home should not burden on and off campus students, nor should it deter students from late nights at the library.
McMaster University is the home away from home for a multitude of diverse students. The responsibility to uphold their well-being should not end where the campus perimeters are drawn.
These obligations must be extended to students in their commute home, to school and while on campus. Moreover, the pertinence of on and off-campus safety measures in the 2017 MSU presidential campaigns reiterates the value student well-being poses to the McMaster Students Union.
McMaster students must be able to rely on their university and the support it provides. Shaarujaa Nadarajah, Patricia Kousoulas and Aquino Inigo have done an effective job in raising awareness of prominent and relevant safety concerns and should encourage other presidential candidates to follow suit.