McMaster has several places on campus for students and McMaster organizations to meet and collaborate. The resources for discussion and study are available for students to use.
There are a number of buildings with study rooms available for booking, including the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery, the McMaster University Students Centre, the Health Sciences library, Thode Library, Innis Library and Mills Library.
With a Mac ID, McMaster students have access to these rooms. Should these resources be open to groups outside of McMaster as well?
On Sept. 13, a misunderstanding occurred that leads me to advocate against public access to study rooms. When McMaster University’s police removed a group of the Socialist Fightback Hamilton group organizers from Mills Library room, study room booking policies became clearer. The organizers of this group booked a room in Mills Library for a talk on an Introduction to Marxism, but campus police did not allow them to access the room due to a post that they saw on Reddit.
The post they saw on Reddit was written by someone who claimed to be a part of Proud Boys, a far-right leaning men’s organization that claim to be western chauvinists who actively display patriotism.
The post claimed that the Proud Boys were planning on coming to the library at the same time as the Socialist Fightback Group. After that, someone dropped a tip phone call to the university, and campus police took action.
When McMaster University’s police removed a group of The Socialist Fightback Hamilton group organizers from Mills Library room, study room booking policies became clearer.
Maximiliano Guerrero, one of the two members of The Socialist Fightback group, was asked for ID to make sure the organizer was a McMaster student. According to the Hamilton Spectator, when asked if he was being carded, McMaster police told Guerrero that he was allowed to decline to show ID. When Guerrero denied his request, “…one of the officer’s responded that [he] had to leave or be arrested.”
The Socialist Fightback Hamilton group is not an officially recognized club at McMaster, though they claim to have organized themselves around the university about 18 months ago with both student and non-student members who take part.
That being said, according to McMaster Study Room Booking policies, since there were student members with a valid Mac ID to book the room, the activists should have had access to the study rooms without interference.
However, the confusion that the post and the phone tip brought seemed to be a justified reason for McMaster police to ask the members to leave.
Even though the post could have just been an attempt to sabotage the Socialist Fightback meeting, campus police did the right thing in attempting to maintain security from the possibility of the interference of Proud Boys.
In addition, refusing to show ID did not work in favour of the organizer in this case, though he had the right to do so.
This is an example of the concerns that could arise with allowing public groups to access McMaster resources such as study rooms.
Though the rooms are available not only as a space for study, but also club meetings, group discussion and interview areas, McMaster is still in a position where students should have access to the campus resources without the chance of being faced by social groups that could raise concerns of student access, security and potential wellbeing.