LABS is working to improve virtual safety measures and support fellow future Black lawyers

C/O The Silhouette Photo Archives

The Law Aspiring Black Students group at McMaster University is creating space for Black and other racialized students to learn about the legal profession, find mentorships and grow their networks. LABS is an McMaster Students Union club and an affiliate of the University of Toronto’s Black Future Lawyers program.

Throughout the 2020-2021 school year, LABS has hosted a range of events and have seen increased interest and enthusiasm within their organization.

The LABS presidential team is composed of three fourth-year justice, politics, philosophy and law students. Brianna Fable-Watson and Elizabeth Oyegunle are the club’s co-presidents and Nicole Anozie is the vice-president. 

LABS Presidents (left to right): co-president Brianna Fable-Watson, co-president Elizabeth Oyegunle & vice-president Nicole Anozie. C/O Brianna Fable-Watson

“[LABS] was intended to be a space where People of Colour, Black-focused but not Black-exclusive, but People of Colour on the spectrum could find a community and establish some kind of space where they could really talk about their experiences, one in which we felt was necessary, especially in the field of law,” said Oyegunle.

“[LABS] was intended to be a space where People of Colour, Black-focused but not Black-exclusive, but People of Colour on the spectrum could find a community and establish some kind of space where they could really talk about their experiences, one in which we felt was necessary, especially in the field of law,” said Oyegunle.

Fable-Watson explained that she and the other presidents are three of five Black students in their majority white class cohort. 

“That’s very minute in comparison to the amount of white counterparts that we have in our classes and so we all found each other and realized that we all had the same struggles and issues. It’s this constant feeling of being out of the loop that we wanted to change for incoming Black students and minority students,” Fable-Watson said. 

LABS has changed that feeling and has seen increased interest and engagement with their programming throughout the year.

“This is an initiative that people want to be seeing because it's catering to their needs, at least right now,” said Anozie.

This is an initiative that people want to be seeing because it's catering to their needs, at least right now,” said Anozie.

Throughout the year they have seen increased interest and engagement with their programming.

“Not a lot of people knew what LABS was, who we were [last year] and I feel like this year we’re really making our footprints in the McMaster community,” said Fable-Watson.

In November 2020, the club hosted LABS Chat on Zoom to discuss racialized students’ experiences with the pandemic, the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter movement, diversity in the workplace and more.

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The event was intended to be a safe space for students to share, to be introduced to the club and for LABS to share plans for the school year. However, in the midst of introductions, multiple participants began saying and typing racial slurs and sexual profanities. One participant changed their Zoom name to Brianna Fable-Watson and used a mirror effect so that there were two screens of her in the call.

The perpetrators of this attack on the event added and re-added each other but the LABS team was ultimately able to remove each of them. In the process, a genuine attendee was accidentally removed and denied access from the event. Another attendee felt too uncomfortable and took a step back, though they did rejoin. 

The event continued and according to the executives, they were not going to let the attack affect the rest of the meeting.

“Honestly, I think it added to the chat because it just made it more apparent [that] that's why we need events like this because things like this happen all the time,” said Fable-Watson. 

Fable-Watson, whose computer appeared to be hacked, reached out to the Hamilton Police Services about the incident but was only told to have her computer checked out.

“You would hope that something can be done, an investigation can be done, to see who these people are. Even tracing an IP address or something, you have resources at your disposal. It’s a matter of using them,” said Anozie.

“What made it even more concerning and worrisome to me was that it literally could be anybody. It could be somebody that’s in my tutorial or in my lectures and that we'd have no idea,” said Fable-Watson.

The identity of the perpetrators are still unknown as of publication of this article. A lot of students have reached out to share that these hateful ideologies are present at McMaster.

“What made it even more concerning and worrisome to me was that it literally could be anybody. It could be somebody that’s in my tutorial or in my lectures and that we'd have no idea,” said Fable-Watson.

“I was completely distraught cause I was like, if this were to be even more severe or if someone was actually harmed where would I go? Who will actually listen to me because I know that the dean of [students] McMaster would not be listening to me. Who will I be able to actually tell my problems to and would they actually be concerned for me?” said Oyegunle. 

The LABS team is focused on moving forward and ensuring that this does not happen to other students. Oyegunle noted how McMaster’s Equity and Inclusion Office has resources but that a lot of students are unaware of them.

“We really want to use our platform now to really allow people to know about and really learn about [these resources],” said Oyegunle.

“We really want to use our platform now to really allow people to know about and really learn about [these resources],” said Oyegunle.

“I feel like now moving forward it’s a matter of assessing and seeing what can we put into place to ensure that security measures are there so that things like this don't happen,” said Anozie. 

The team described the attack as a learning opportunity to implement increased measures and to continue to create safe spaces for racialized students to network and build community.

“We are still going to move forward. We're still going to be here and it's not going to stop us. It's not going to deter us from holding future events,” said Anozie. 

“We are still going to move forward. We're still going to be here and it's not going to stop us. It's not going to deter us from holding future events,” said Anozie. 

“As students of colour, especially Black people and Black women in general, we face so much more hardship and barriers in our lives that something as simple as a zoom infiltration, obviously it’s horrible, but that’s literally not going to stop us. The whole point of LABS is that we’re so focused on success that it doesn’t matter what you do. We’re all here for each other. We’re all united,” said Fable-Watson.

The whole point of LABS is that we’re so focused on success that it doesn’t matter what you do. We’re all here for each other. We’re all united,” said Fable-Watson.

Since then the LABS team has worked with Tolulope Ojo, from inclusion and anti-racism programming in the EIO and Faith Ogunkoya, a student services team lead, to learn more about navigating Zoom safely and to share these resources with other clubs on campus. LABS has successfully implemented these measures in other events, such as a career panel in January 2021.

With Proctortrack’s recent security breach, Mac should consider using alternative testing methods that don’t involve proctoring software

By: Juan Molina Calderon, Contributor

From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the proctoring industry has boomed due to the need to regulate online exams and other tests in order to prevent plagiarism. Proctorio, for example, has had an increase in business by 900 per cent. Due to the increase in usage, many people have raised questions of whether proctoring services such as Examity, Honorlock and Proctortrack should even be used in the first place.

Firstly, I believe there is a problem with trying to deliver tests and exams online. The main issue comes from trying to replicate in-person teaching and test-taking in an online format. A very captivating lecture in person might keep most of the class engaged and attentive, but when it is moved online, many students mention the trouble they have focusing, including myself.

Additionally, we study and learn in the same setting day-after-day, which creates a very monotonous routine and as a result, can make it hard to concentrate. This new COVID routine is very different from walking around campus to get to your next class or having a coffee with some of your friends.

Studies show that face-to-face social contact releases many neurotransmitters which help us regulate our response to things such as stress and anxiety. Now, these interactions are purely virtual and as a result, we miss out on all these benefits. 

The environment in which students learn continues to adapt to the pandemic and so should the pedagogy and assessment methods. Instead of putting resources into creating a new form of teaching and assessing students’ knowledge, a lot of it has been put into resources such as proctoring software. 

I believe that there are far more efficient ways to have students demonstrate their knowledge without the use of tests. For example, students could create online portfolios with all the work, assignments, notes and homework they have done throughout the semester which should be complemented with projects that apply the knowledge the students should grasp. As a student in the faculty of engineering, I have yet to see a real change in the way students are evaluated since the format for my classes and tests seems to look the same now as it did before the lockdown began in Ontario.

The environment in which students learn continues to adapt to the pandemic and so should the pedagogy and assessment methods. Instead of putting resources into creating a new form of teaching and assessing students’ knowledge, a lot of it has been put into resources such as proctoring software. 

McMaster University, in this case, has given professors the ability to use these types of software including Examity which has what I believe to be an abusive policy. Examity, like other proctoring software, has the capacity to collect massive amounts of data since they have unrestricted access to your computer and its files. 

Examity’s privacy policy states that the information they may collect the following: “[a] driver’s license number or state-issued identification card number, financial account number, credit card number or debit card number with or without any required security code, that would permit access to an individual’s financial account.” 

If this is not worrying, I do not know what is. The extent of the information collected is unwarranted and poses a large security risk for students.

Additionally, they state that they cannot guarantee the security of their platform and that providing data to Examity is done at our own risk. Therefore, if there is ever a security breach, Examity is not held liable because we agreed to download this program. 

Examity’s privacy policy states that the information they may collect the following: “[a] driver’s license number or state-issued identification card number, financial account number, credit card number or debit card number with or without any required security code, that would permit access to an individual’s financial account.” 

Furthermore, they state that they may share your personal data with “trusted” third parties or affiliates that help Examity provide their service. Essentially, Examity is given free rein to share our data with a third party, which increases the risk for a potential data breach. 

Clearly, this is not only invasive but a breach of ethics. This is because the data collected and stored by proctoring software is valued by third-parties who use this type of data to profile people online. Services such as Proctortrack can hold this data for up to 180 days which is unnecessary since the data should ideally be deleted after the student submits the test if no suspicious activity occurred. 

Additionally, it raises concerns regarding inequality since universities cannot assume every student has a stable internet connection and that they are able to work on an exam at home without any disruptions. Therefore, the environment is not the same for everyone as it would be in a testing room.

This level of access shares a lot of parallels with spyware and malware. Even though these types of software are not meant for that purpose, they can definitely be exploited at the expense of our privacy.

One recent example is the security breach at Proctortrack which resulted in the temporary shutdown of its services. Although an independent audit by cybersecurity company Network Intelligence stated that no customer data was breached, this situation illustrates how companies like Proctortrack and Examity can never guarantee the data will be 100 per cent secure. 

In conclusion, when using these programs, not only are we being watched and recorded in our homes by people who are not directly affiliated with the university, but a lot of our personal data is being collected. The need to prevent cheating does not outweigh privacy and security. This doesn’t even mention the anxiety and stress proctoring causes for many students. Even then, technology is not the solution for preventing cheating, as there will always be people who find ways around it.

Greater safety precautions needed amongst student housing

CW: This article refers to instances of physical and sexual violence.

On Oct. 1, a 34-year-old identified as Michael Gallo was stabbed in the backyard of his home near Main Street West and Haddon Ave. South.

On Oct. 1, a 34-year-old identified as Michael Gallo was stabbed in the backyard of his home near Main Street West and Haddon Ave. South.

Gallo was found with stab wounds and taken to the hospital where he died of his injuries.

Kelly Botelho reported for CHCH that neighbours said Gallo had come out of the house that day, hugging his abdomen and asking for help. 

Due to its close proximity to McMaster University, the Westdale area is a popular area for student housing. 

Andrew Mrozowski, a fourth-year political science student and Managing Editor of the Silhouette, lives one street down from Haddon Avenue on Dalewood Avenue and has been in his student house since September.

Mrozowski recalls that when news broke about the stabbing that night, both him and his housemates were afraid. Not until the next morning after driving past Gallo’s house did he process the severity of the incident.

“Just because we live near Mac doesn't mean that we still should not take the precautions to be safe,” Mrozowski said. He was reminded that although Westdale is heavily populated by students of McMaster, it is still a neighbourhood like any other.

“Just because we live near Mac doesn't mean that we still should not take the precautions to be safe,” Mrozowski said.

In recent years, there have been several incidents within the student neighbourhoods around McMaster. In August and September 2018, there was a series of break-ins and attempted break-ins that targeted women. A 32-year-old man, Daniel Severin, was charged in February 2019 in connection with six incidents in Westdale during that time period.

Severin was charged with numerous crimes, including sexual assault, four counts of voyeurism, and six counts of criminal harassment. Severin was caught and charged five months after the first attack.

There were other incidents as well. A fight in September 2019 left two men with non-life-threatening stab wounds in the area of Whitney Avenue and Emerson Street. A couple was attacked on Bowman Street in October 2019, where a 19-year-old man had non-life-threatening stab wounds and a 19-year-old woman was sprayed with an unknown aerosol. It is unclear whether anyone was charged in connection to these incidents.

In thinking about why Westdale might lack safety measures, Mrozowski suggested that the lack of media coverage over student incidents may be a contributing factor.

In addition, to make Westdale a safer area for students, Mrozowski suggested that the university and the McMaster Students Union should be more involved. He would like to see students have authority other than the police to turn to for concerns within student housing.

“I hope [after hearing what happened] McMaster students really stop and consider, are they being safe . . . [I hope that] this horrible incident brings the community together to take further precautions to make sure it doesn't happen to anybody else in anybody else's family,” Mrozowski added.

"[I hope that] this horrible incident brings the community together to take further precautions to make sure it doesn't happen to anybody else in anybody else's family,” Mrozowski added.

Other students have also voiced concerns over the lack of police response to issues of violence in and around McMaster. A group of McMaster students and supporters called De Caire Off Campus continue to advocate for the removal of Head of Security Services Glenn De Caire and the removal of all special constables.

The group has cited failures of special constables to adequately respond to mental health crises and sexual violence.

In an update from the Hamilton Police Services, a man who was in the immediate area has now been deemed a suspect. The man was nearly hit by a vehicle while crossing the same intersection that night around five minutes before police were called to Gallo’s home.

The man is described as slender, about 5’9” and wearing a grey sweater with black sleeves along with a blue surgical mask.

Police are asking that people who were in the area at the time and saw the suspect to contact them. They are also asking homeowners in the Westdale area to check cameras and surveillance footage.

Anyone with information is also asked to call police at 905-546-3874 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

By criminalizing global activism, Hong Kong’s security law is a serious threat to not only Hong Kong international students, but all McMaster students.

By: Mark Choi*, Contributor

*Names and identifying details have been altered to protect the privacy of individuals*

The words that you are reading right now could land me in prison for life.

This may seem absurd — life imprisonment for writing a political opinion in a newspaper. However, as a Hong Kong international student, this is a very real risk that I face under China’s sweeping new Hong Kong security law.

In June, the Chinese government imposed a draconian national security law upon Hong Kong after months of pro-democracy demonstrations. The law criminalizes vague offenses such as “subversion” or “collusion with foreign forces” and establishes a new secret police unit for its enforcement. This bloodless coup has been internationally condemned as a desecration of Hong Kong’s treaty-guaranteed autonomy.

This crackdown on dissent is unprecedented. Hundreds were rounded up the first day the law came into force. Books are being banned, educators are being purged and political persecution is on the rise. The first political figure arrested under the law was 19-year-old student Tony Chung, who now faces up to life in prison for allegedly writing subversive posts on Facebook.

For Hong Kong international students at McMaster University, this law is terrifying. It severely restricts what we are able to say or do. The law’s offenses are intentionally vague, in order to encourage self-censorship.

The security law also imperils other outspoken McMaster students: Article 38 of the law says it covers literally everyone on Earth. This means anybody at McMaster — not just those with Hong Kong citizenship — risks prosecution simply for criticizing the Chinese government. In fact, the first foreign national hit with an arrest warrant through Article 38 is activist Samuel Chu, an American citizen based in California; more such warrants are likely coming.

For Hong Kong international students at McMaster University, this law is terrifying. It severely restricts what we are able to say or do. The law’s offenses are intentionally vague, in order to encourage self-censorship. The security law also imperils other outspoken McMaster students: Article 38 of the law says it covers literally everyone on Earth.

Canada has even issued an official travel warning for Hong Kong. Canadians transiting through Hong Kong’s airport now risk arbitrary detention and life imprisonment for “activities that are not considered illegal in Canada and that occurred outside of Hong Kong”.

Faculty and students at McMaster who are interested in issues deemed politically sensitive by the Chinese government must now choose between permanently avoiding Hong Kong, or dropping such research altogether. In other words, the security law’s extraterritorial overreach degrades academic freedom at McMaster.

Additionally, as a student activist at McMaster, I have previously spoken up about Hong Kong. In May, other Hongkonger students and I successfully lobbied the Student Success Centre to take down job postings for the Hong Kong Police Force.

I also want to spend time supporting others who similarly experience oppression, such as Uyghurs experiencing genocide in China’s concentration camps, and protests against police violence and systemic anti-Black racism right here at McMaster. Our struggles are not solitary sojourns — rather, we get strength from solidarity with one another.

Unfortunately, while this is what I want to do, such activism will make me a target. Until now, Hong Kong had been a vibrant hub for social justice organizers, queer folks and climate activists focused on China. However, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both recently warned that such activism is now seriously threatened by the security law.

After all, the security law criminalizes more than just pro-democracy slogans, it criminalizes dissent. The Hong Kong government, having lost all political legitimacy, now relies solely on its state security apparatus to maintain power. In such a scenario, a free society is inherently an existential threat.

McMaster therefore needs to strengthen academic freedom and space for student activism. There should be particular focus on safety for international students who will not be based in Canada for the online Fall 2020 term.

For starters, McMaster should ban the institutional use of Zoom and use more secure platforms instead, such as Teams (which we already pay for). McMaster’s security guidelines for Zoom are, disappointingly, unabashedly ignorant of the fact that not all students will be based in Canada for Fall 2020. For Hong Kong students like myself, we could find ourselves prosecuted for participating in political discussions online if McMaster does not take our safety seriously.

1/4 We are urging @McMasterU and other Ontario universities to STOP using #Zoom for online learning!

Zoom’s facilitation of Chinese gov’t censorship & surveillance makes it a serious threat to student safety.

Please sign our joint petition here! https://t.co/0gEoLi2aQT pic.twitter.com/UezRheUCf3

— McMaster Stands with Hong Kong 😷 (@McMaster_SWHK) July 20, 2020

McMaster also needs to improve safety for student activists. Last May, three students were ticketed while protesting on campus. This kind of harassment creates a chilling effect, as the threat of police violence discourages students from organizing. Instead of deterring student activism, McMaster should be actively facilitating it.

As Hongkongers face down a grim, authoritarian future — one where political persecution, arbitrary arrest and torture in police detention go from the exception to the norm — I feel conflicted.

On one hand, the danger to me and my family is real. In mainland China, the Chinese Communist Party silences dissent by not only targeting activists, but also their families. However, the state wants to silence us due to fear — fear of what we would say if Hong Kong was truly free. For that reason alone, we Hongkongers must keep speaking.

Photo by Cindy Cui/ Photo Editor

* Names and identifying details have been altered to protect the privacy of individuals*

The Oct. 22 Lennon Wall demonstration at McMaster was intended to raise awareness for the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill protests happening in Hong Kong and to express solidarity with  Hong Kong protestors. An individual interrupted the demonstration  at around 4 p.m. and attempted to damage the signs on the Lennon Wall and remove protestors’ face masks.

However, there is a consensus — both among those who support the cause and those who do not — that what happened on Oct. 22 is much bigger than a one-time event. 

In the days since, the incident has raised issues of inaction, censorship and the isolation of international students on campus. 

One of the demonstrators, Cameron*, called the altercation a clear attempt to use violence and intimidation to silence the protest. Jamie, another demonstrator, pointed to a pattern designed to silence protesters who are supporting the democracy movement in Hong Kong, which has been demonstrated by incidents in Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland

Leslie*, a student from the Chinese mainland, disapproved of how the individual who disrupted the demonstration expressed their disagreement. 

Instead of tearing things down, [the individual] should have called the campus police in the first place, and ask them to check this masked protest,” said Leslie.

Alex, another student from the Chinese mainland, maintains that the Oct. 22 incident did not undermine anyone’s freedom of speech. They assert that the individual who interfered with the demonstration was justified in being upset, as the content of the protest dealt with separatist activities, which are frowned upon in China. Alex believes that since there was this justification, the individual’s actions were not against anyone’s freedom of speech.

“If you want me to try to understand why that student committed this so-called violent action, I would only say if I were him, I would be doing that because I'm not content, I'm feeling even offended by the way they did that, the Hong Kong protesters on our campus,” said Alex. 

Leslie acknowledges both sides of the problem. They believe that what the individual did was not civil — but that neither is wearing masks and promoting what Leslie perceives to be violence committed by the protesters in Hong Kong. Leslie refers to the masks as a symbol of the “anonymous violence” happening in Hong Kong. 

Leslie and Alex also highlighted a difference in beliefs that render the situation even more complex. While the Oct. 22 situation happened within McMaster’s campus, it may point to differences in upbringing that go beyond our campus’s walls. 

Alex deplores the instinct of many Canadian locals to generalize international students from the Chinese mainland, adding that there is a misunderstanding between the mainland students and other people on campus. Alex believes that this generalization fails to consider how different Canadian norms are for those who did not grow up with Western ideologies. 

“[Someone said] ‘Oh, the Chinese students, they are so used to the government telling them what to do … so when they are outside China, they don't know what to do so they have to contact their government. They have to let the government tell them what to do.’ Well, first off, that is damn wrong … Sometimes, we just feel very lonely in our power of speech. We've been isolated by Western media stuff … We're definitely not used to the so-called liberal, democratic way of saying something. When there's a problem, we go solve that. We don't go on [the] street, we don't go on any form of protest … Here [in Canada], whoever has the bigger voice wins,” Alex said.

Leslie believes that Canadians’ belief in Western liberal democracy prevents them from entertaining other political ideologies and from carrying out dialogue with those who come from the mainland of China without  the use of words such as “dictatorship” or “authoritarian”. 

One SRA member pointed out that the Lennon Wall incident violated the McMaster Student Code of Conduct, which protects students’ right to safety and security. The Code is meant to ensure an environment free from intimidation and discrimination, and to protect students’ right to security of their personal property. It also condemns threats and acts of vandalism — labels that the demonstrators have attached to the individual who initiated the altercation. 

In an SRA meeting on Nov. 3, the McMaster Lennon Wall demonstrators urged the SRA to release a public statement. 

“We just hope [the SRA] will speak up for vulnerable students who face violence on campus by releasing a public statement and speak up for our rights … We hope that you will stand in solidarity with us, as demonstrators whose rights to safely protest and dissent on campus were violated,” they declared.

In response, the SRA promised to release a statement regarding the Oct. 22 demonstration.

Since then, MSU president Josh Marando has published a statement through his president’s page on The Silhouette. He affirmed the MSU’s support of the students’ right to protest peacefully and exist safely on campus.

“The MSU is always working towards creating a safer and more inclusive environment for students. As such, actions, activities or attitudes that work against that notion should not have a place in our campus discourse,” said Marando.

The McMaster administration also provided a statement. Gord Arbeau, director of communications at McMaster, emphasized the importance of conducting a thorough investigation. 

McMaster security, who were called to the demonstration after the incident took place, are conducting an investigation.. Only when the investigation is complete can the university determine what policies are relevant and what further actions, if any, are needed. The Code might be one of the policies considered, should further action be required.

“Thankfully, these types of incidents are rare on our campus,” added Arbeau. 

However rare such incidents may be, Cameron believes that a statement of support from the university could have a large impact.  

“McMaster’s name is a big deal, and if they legitimize what we're doing, then that means a lot to certain people. That means that the institution has put their faith in us as a cause,” said Cameron. 

Cameron added that the altercation during the Oct. 22 Lennon Wall demonstration should not be seen as an isolated incident, but rather as a part of a systemic problem in which protesters are silenced through violence and intimidation. Jamie also agrees that silence and inaction are dangerous when the issue is so deeply rooted. 

“This should not be treated as just a one-off incident. I think the university and the McMaster Students Union needs to realize that there was a more systemic issue here as well and therefore also develop more long term solutions as possible,” said Jamie.

Jamie, Cameron and the other demonstrators are not giving up on protests any time soon. They want protestors  in Hong Kong to know they are not alone, that there are students that stand with them. 

“There's a perception that Canada is very far away from Hong Kong [and] maybe it doesn't matter so much, but we want to say ‘Hold on a second, no, it does matter’. It matters because there's lots of Canadians living in Hong Kong. There's lots of Hong Kong students here at McMaster,” Jamie explained.

The demonstrators’ ultimate ideal goal is to educate people about the protests in Hong Kong and for McMaster students to understand enough about Hong Kong to show support and solidarity. 

“Us [students] here in Canada, we're lucky we don't have to live with the consequences of what of what we're doing, right? And so the most important thing to us is for every single person to fully understand the situation unfolding in the city across the sea,” said Cameron.

Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

Canada is currently plagued by an opioid crisis. Opioids such as fentanyl are drugs that are commonly used to relieve pain. These drugs, however, can be extremely addictive and their misuse has led to thousands of overdoses and deaths.

In 2017, 88 Hamilton residents died from opioid overdoses. So far into this year, Hamilton Paramedic Services has already responded to 161 incidents of suspected opioid overdoses. In comparison to other cities within the province, Hamilton has the highest opioid-related death rate.

While there is no publicly available data on the demographics of opioid use in Hamilton, in general, young adults aged 18 to 25 are the most vulnerable to opioid misuse. As the rate of opioid misuse increases annually, it is imperative that students are aware of the availability of naloxone.

Naloxone is a fast-acting drug that temporarily reverses the effects of opioid overdoses until medical emergency services can arrive. As of March 2019, Public Health and the Naloxone Expansion Sites in Hamilton have distributed 2496 doses of naloxone, with 285 people reported as being revived by the drug.  

McMaster University’s student-led Emergency First Response Team and McMaster University security officers carry and are trained to use naloxone nasal kits in case of emergency situations. While Mac’s security officers only recently began to carry the kits, EFRT responders have been carrying them since August 2017.

Fortunately, EFRT has not had to use any of their kits since they began carrying them. While this may imply that opioid-related overdoses have not occurred on campus, this does not guarantee that students are not at risk at opioid misuse.

As EFRT responders and McMaster security cannot always be available to respond to students’ needs off-campus, students should be more aware of their ability to carry and be trained to use naloxone kits.

While the Student Wellness Centre does not carry the free naloxone kit, the McMaster University Centre Pharmasave located within the McMaster University Student Centre does, in addition to the Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies located near campus. To obtain a kit, all students must do is show their Ontario health card.

The fact that this life-saving drug is so readily available to students on and near campus is amazing. It is disappointing then that the university hasn’t done a sufficient job in advertising this information to students.

Students should be given naloxone kits and mandatory opioid information and response training at the beginning of the academic term. At the very least, this information can be distributed during Welcome Week along with other orientation events.

The opioid crisis is one that affects us all, especially here in Hamilton. McMaster University should help fight this crisis by ensuring that their students are equipped with the knowledge to recognize an opioid overdose and have the necessary tools to help reverse them.

 

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Expand upon your post-secondary studies to discover your pathway to an exciting career in health information. Learn and apply industry standards for the collection, use, and analysis of personal health data.  Study information management’s principles and practices for privacy, confidentiality and security, and how these are applicable to health information systems. Learn  how electronic information management is revolutionizing health care within service sectors: primary care, administration and research.

As the Canadian health care delivery system evolves, so does data collection, health information usage and analysis, privacy and security, and the integration of information systems.

That’s why McMaster University Continuing Education is thrilled to announce that its Health Information Management Plus Diploma program is now accredited by the Canadian College of Health Information Management (CCHIM). This accreditation means that the program has met the strict regulation requirements upheld by both the certifying body and the Canadian Health Information Management Association (CHIMA), the national association representing leadership and excellence in health information management across the country.

This post-graduate, part-time, instructor-led program is an online learning experience designed by leading experts in the country in consultation with professional associations. Graduates of the program are eligible to become Certified Health Information Management (CHIM) professionals, who are in high demand in a variety of health care settings across the continuum of care and within provincial and federal governments. These professionals will use electronic information management to revolutionize health care.

The CHIM credential is recognized across Canada, and our members play key roles in the Canadian health system, including privacy and information analytics, to decision support and the coding and classification of records.

McMaster University Continuing Education provides its learners with academic programs that are well-designed, accessible,  and relevant to the professional field.  Programs within health information are designed for learners with an undergraduate degree or college diploma seeking to build upon their prior knowledge and skills.

To qualify for the Health Information Management Plus Diploma (45 units), students must complete all ​required courses for the program. In agreement with CHALearning, McMaster University Continuing Education students will register and complete 3 coding courses offered by CHALearning. Upon successful completion of the 3 courses, students receive 6 units of study to be applied to the HIM Plus Diploma. All program courses are offered online. This diploma program is accredited by the Canadian College of Health Information Management (2018-2020).

Applications for the winter term cohort open on January 2, 2019. To find out more about admission requirements, please visit mcmastercce.ca/health-information-management or contact us at mcmastercce.ca/contact-us.

 

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Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

By Daniella Mikanovsky

A string of prowling incidents and break-ins stretching from Aug. 2018 to Sept. 11 continues to rock Westdale. In the wake of these events, students and organizations on campus have been stepping up their advocacy for landlord accountability in the community.  

The first incident occurred on Aug. 3, when an intruder broke into the second story window of McMaster Integrated Science student Connor MacLean’s home. After the incident, MacLean and his roommates called their landlords.

“We felt unsafe in that house, so the landlords agreed to put in motion lights. A month later, there was still nothing. We ended up buying our own motion lights, our own security camera, and we installed it ourselves,” MacLean explained. “Safety should not be the student’s responsibility alone. The landlords need to be the first people looking out for that.”

Shemar Hackett, associate vice president of municipal affairs on for the McMaster Students Union, is planning to tackle the issue of unaccountable landlords. The committee he leads is focused on improving off-campus life for students, including housing safety.

One initiative the committee hopes to implement is the Landlord Licencing System, a city-run program that would fund annual housing inspections and certify that any tenant complaints are taken seriously. This system would encourage landlord responsibility, with the goal being for students to have safety features in their homes, including functioning locks on all windows and doors. 

An additional initiative that the committee has been undertaking is a Landlord Rating System, which will exist as an online forum for students to rate and report their housing units. Similar to the website Rate My Professor, this website could incentivize landlords to take responsibility when maintaining their houses.  

“Once the website gains traction and students begin to report their experiences, irresponsible landlords will begin to see a decline in students seeking their properties. In return, students should see safer living conditions as landlords are now motivated to upkeep their rental units, which increases the quality of living for students and ensures their safety,” said Hackett.

With a host website confirmed, Hackett expects to have the program available for student use in the new year.

There are also programs on campus available for students who feel a lack of security. For instance, a skill students may want to acquire is self-defense. McMaster Athletics and Recreation is offering two 10-week classes for “Krav Maga Self-Defense” this fall.

It is worth noting that “Women’s Self-Defense” has not been scheduled this term. The Athletics and Recreation department is facing difficulty with locating a space for this class due to the renovations occuring in the David Braley Athletic Centre. Although classes may return in the winter term, in light of the Westdale break-ins, the lack of classes may be a significant issue.

For female students who are looking for a women’s-only class, the Equity and Inclusion Office may offer it. Pilar Michaud, director of human rights and dispute resolution at the EIO, explains that in the past, the EIO ran a women’s self-defense workshop.

Michaud also points to several other services available to students, including Meagan Ross, McMaster’s sexual violence response coordinator, the MSU’s Women and Gender Equity Network and Good2Talk, a free and confidential 24/7 helpline that offers professional support for university students in Ontario.

Just a friendly reminder that Good2Talk is a 24/7 Confidential Helpline for post-secondary students. Call 1-866-925-5454 or visit https://t.co/TERu6Z9JUe #MentalHealthMatters

— OUSA (@OUSAhome) February 1, 2018

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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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