Students entering university are faced with many new things: new classes, new friends and sometimes even new living arrangements. But students living in on-campus residences should not have to worry about their safety.
To help students transition into living away from home, and to enforce the rules of residence life, McMaster University community advisors live with first-year students in their residences. Their purpose is to “develop and maintain an environment that is conducive to learning and personal growth.”
To be a CA, one must fulfill many qualifications including maintaining a minimum sessional average of 6.0, being a full-time McMaster University student, demonstrating responsibility and leadership abilities and have a working knowledge or building community within students.
But for all the listed requirements, CAs are not required to complete any sort of police background check, including a very important vulnerable sector check.
VS checks are a collection of offence information that is restricted to applicants seeking employment or volunteering in a position of authority or trust over vulnerable persons in Canada. They can be obtained easily from the police service in your residing jurisdiction.
The lack of VS checks for CAs is problematic for many reasons. For one, many incoming students are under 18-years-old. In these cases, it is evident that these students are considered vulnerable persons and subsequently require additional protection from those in positions of authority and trust like CAs.
But even for incoming students who are legally adults, their role as a first-year student inherently places them in a lower position of power relative to their CAs. This power dynamic can be harmful if the CAs have a history of offensive behaviour.
CAs have a lot of influence over the first-year students under their supervision. CAs are oftentimes students’ first interaction with upper-year students and are meant to be the go-to person for questions about campus and residence life. To not conduct a proper background check on them is negligent of the university in ensuring that students are protected.
The lack of VS checks is not an exclusive issue of CAs. In addition to CAs, residence-affiliated positions such as the residence orientation representative are not required to complete VS checks.
In fact, part-time managers, the board of directors and other McMaster Students Union positions do not require the completion of a VS check.
Considering that almost all of these roles involve interaction with and power over a vulnerable population of students, it makes no sense why these roles do not require VS checks. If anything, the lack of VS checks puts students in avoidable danger.
In addition to VS checks, McMaster University should do a more thorough job of ensuring that individuals hired for their positions are positive reflections of the university. This includes ensuring that these individuals have not been reported to university administration or asked to withdraw from their positions previously.
The lack of sufficient and necessary screening of individuals in positions of power within the university is alarming. For McMaster University to truly commit to ensuring student safety, they must create better hiring policies that begin with implementation of VS checks.
By: Adriana Skaljin
Rebecca Maxwell, setter for the McMaster women’s volleyball team, is starting off the 2019 with perseverance and a new attitude. As a newer team, the first half of the season was spent trying to figure out how to work together. Now that they have had the chance to play with one another, they are entering the second half with confidence.
“The [influx] of new players brought a new dynamic,” explained Maxwell. “We have had great practices and it’s working. We have found our stride!”
Maxwell described how at the beginning of the season, they focused a lot on developing their team dynamic and skills, such as blocking patterns. Now that they are more comfortable with each other, they have a new mindset focused on pushing for the win and doing what is needed to perform at an Ontario University Athletics gold level.
“We want to win OUA gold and nationals,” said Maxwell. “This is the goal [towards which] we are working.”
Not only is this a new comeback for the team, but Maxwell is coming back from a serious injury as well. During the team’s third practice, Maxwell got a concussion which kept her from playing in the pre-season and the first couple of games of the regular season.
“I came back for one set during the last game against [the University of] Windsor back in November,” Maxwell said. “I am excited to be back in full force, now that I [have the clear] to play again.”
Coach Tim Louks has commended the women’s volleyball team on their performance thus far, as they perform to the best of their ability, resulting in an honest outcome.
“We are going forward fast,” said Louks. “We are building capacity physically and intellectually to contribute to our vision of winning.”
When asked about their toughest competitors going into the season, Maxwell explained how it changes every game.
“Any team that is across from us at that moment in the court is who we want to beat,” explained Maxwell. “There are shocking results across the board, so everyone becomes a good competitor.”
“You have to expect certain elements from certain groups,” added Louks. “This requires our ability to learn more and become better. [Therefore,] we are our own toughest competitor.”
On Jan. 13 and 14, the Marauders kicked off the new year against Windsor and the University of Western Ontario on their home court. The team went into the matches with an enthusiastic approach and a high level of determination.
“Windsor is a game that we want back,” said Maxwell. “We want to take that three-setter away from them. [The game against] Windsor is going to be a battle, because we know what they can do and what we can do. Our last game against Windsor gives us some confidence, and the loss against Western gives us motivation towards taking the win away from them.”
“A common question we get is, ‘are you ready?’ I think that we are as ready as possible which is important,” said Louks on the team’s readiness. “Western is a great opponent, so there could be some uncertainty in terms of results. We will need to turn it around in a day, after the game results against Windsor [the day prior].”
Unfortunately, a 3-1 loss against Windsor would result in the team’s fourth loss of the year; a tough way to reopen the season. The next day, the Marauders bounced back in a strong comeback-win against Western, winning 3-2.
— McMaster Marauders (@McMasterSports) January 13, 2019
It is this motivated attitude that will help push them towards the OUA and national championships, while proving that they are strong competitors.
It is certain that the McMaster women’s volleyball team will use their losses as motivation towards a strong second-half of their season, while continuing to build momentum off of their victories.