Out of school and away from their teams, how do McMaster's athletes spend their time off?
In December, the Silhouette asked athletes how they spent their winter break. With a much longer summer break quickly approaching, it only seemed right to check back in with Marauders athletes as to how they’ll be spending their summer.
McMaster’s men’s rugby team played their last game of the season on Oct. 23, but that doesn’t mean their training has stopped. Matthew Bazinet, a member of the team, took the time to discuss the training that the team has undergone thus far and the training that its members will be taking on over the course of the summer.
Heading into the summer offseason, or as Bazinet called it, the “pre-season,” the team continues to hold high expectations of their players in preparation for the season to come. They are provided with training regimes prior to their departure which they must follow almost religiously, regardless of whether they’re able to stay at the school.
“During the pre-season we are [supposed] to go to the [high performance area] at McMaster. There are certain workouts that you have to complete two to three times a week . . . We focus on growth, so getting bigger and staying healthy and functional,” said Bazinet.
He really stressed the importance of building muscle for the team, mentioning the HPA several times as a critical component for pre-season training. During the summer months McMaster keeps the HPA open through extended hours in an effort to aid its athletes in finding the time in their schedule to keep improving. However, this is only a help to those who opt to remain in Hamilton during their time off.
“The HPA at McMaster, for people who stay in Hamilton, stays open, and they widen their times so that people who work different shifts are still able to come in and make their lift times. Then, for people that go home [outside of Hamilton], they have to have a sit down with the coaches to discuss where you’re going to be working out, how you’re going to be working out, if you can’t follow the HPA lifts [exactly], how are you going to substitute the exercises,” explained Bazinet.
The HPA is a go-to spot for athletes that has been mentioned by athletes countless times through the year, as one might expect given the elite atmosphere and training capabilities it enables. Using the HPA or trying to emulate that experience elsewhere for the athletes who don’t remain in Hamilton is just one part of the summer training experience.
As a team with a fairly short regular season, the rugby team realizes that there’s more to training than just muscle building. Although it is a key component and remains a massive focus for a majority of the summer, it’s also important to keep your game skills sharp.
“It’s really hard to progress as rugby players if you only play six to eight games in a season during the OUA. [Coach] uses the term ‘it’s absolutely vital to our success as a rugby team that everybody, whether they stay in Hamilton, or go home for the summer, that they are playing some form of rugby.’ Those are the requirements in order to uphold your role on the team — two lifts in the summer per week and playing rugby,” said Bazinet.
Over the course of the pre-season, the team typically has a general goal to work towards. For the upcoming pre-season, the goal is muscle building. Despite that, they still make sure to switch up their training programs through time to continue working towards a well-rounded result before getting back on the field.
“We do change our regimens usually about once every one to two months . . . We’re mainly focusing on hypertrophy or getting bigger. As we get closer to the season we start to add in more conditioning, we start to add in more functional movement. That’s because you’re now preparing your body for sport, not just getting bigger. That’s just to try and make sure less people get injured over the season,” explained Bazinet.
In the later months of the summer nearer to the start of the season, the team eventually comes together for a training camp at McMaster. This high intensity camp is meant to get the team back together and working towards a common goal as a unit. Between fitness testing, gelling together and polishing your in-game skills, the team is using this time to ensure they hit the ground running once the season starts.
“Five days a week during those weeks we practice and get ready for the season . . . The training camp isn’t about brushing up your rugby skills. The training camp is about getting back together and working collectively as a team. That’s the goal of the whole training camp, take in new players, see who’s gonna fit in and build a squad before the season begins,” said Bazinet.
There is a long journey ahead before many of McMaster’s teams return to play and in that time the Marauders will be found continuing to train all summer long, whether it be in the HPA or in a gym closer to their hometown. There’s a reason why university athletes are so talented and dedicated — even during their time off, the high intensity never stops.
In a year of COVID-19 restrictions, student-athletes have found new ways to improve their game during the pandemic
C/O Esra Rakab
In a year where McMaster University sports seasons had to be cancelled and training has become increasingly difficult due to social-distancing restrictions, teams and athletes have had to find new ways to keep improving. Not only are these athletes missing out on the most critical method of improvement — the cancelled games in which they regularly play — but practices have also looked extremely different throughout the school year.
Some teams opted to train via virtual practices, gathering on Zoom to work out together and run drills individually. Others have opted to continue hosting regular in-person practices, simply adhering to the provincial restrictions. That being said, the majority of teams have created a variety of in-between scenarios in their best attempts to keep their athletes on the right track to improvement.
Tyler Pavelic, a middle on the McMaster men’s volleyball team, discussed the differences and difficulties of the in-person practices the team has held this year.
“Training in the pandemic has been pretty tough, especially considering we have to wear masks during the whole practice . . . With the guidelines here in Hamilton, we are only allowed 10 guys at a time, so for a sport like volleyball where you need six-on-six to play, we can’t really do much,” said Pavelic.
Practice might be much difficult in the pandemic, but for Pavelic, it’s the missed gameplay that was the biggest punch to the gut.
“[On] gamedays, it’s a great feeling with a lot of fans, loud music . . . It’s just a great experience in every game that everyone looks forward to during the week,” said Pavelic. When asked what he missed most about pre-pandemic sports, the answer was simple: “Just games, games were awesome,” said Pavelic.
Julian Tymochko, a member of Mac's men's baseball team, is another Marauder who spoke about the hardships the pandemic has caused on his team.
“It’s been tough — we haven’t really been able to get any official practices going. The best we could do was have about 10 guys get out, throw a little bit of live batting practice, and get some ground ball work in and all of that. That was during the summer mostly, we really haven’t done much since then,” said Tymochko.
With practices limited, and limitations surrounding indoor practices, Tymochko has found himself improving within the mental/strategy-based aspects of his game from his own home, something many athletes have turned to this past season.
“Something that I’ve been really excited about recently is that college baseball in the states has started up . . . Typically I’ll start my morning watching two or three highlights from the games, like a Vanderbilt-Arkansas game or something like that,” said Tymochko.
Tymochko enjoys watching his American counterparts to analyze how they play the game. He considers each and every move to help improve the way he goes into each game.
“I’m watching those highlights and seeing those pitchers from our age group in North America, how they’re going about their in-game play. Just looking at how they’re playing, considering that they’re the top of the game, they’re the top competition for our age group,” explained Tymochko.
Tymochko, the 2019-2020 Canadian Baseball Guru Cy Young winner, awarded to the league’s best pitcher, has been working extra hard over the offseason, as McMaster Baseball isn’t all he has been training for.
After his Cy Young-winning season, the fifth-year athlete was signed by the Fort McMurray Giants of the Western Canadian Baseball League.
“During the pandemic it was so hard to get a training routine and a good regimen, so I reached out to a trainer via Zoom. For a while I was doing twice a week training sessions with him on Zoom, just getting a good workout,” said Tymochko.
The primary goal Tymochko was going for was finding ways to workout without the typical training equipment offered by McMaster.
“He knew workouts with minimal amounts of equipment that still made me feel a lot stronger, smoother and way more mobile, and I would say that’s what I worked on the most this offseason,” said Tymochko.
The workload Tymochko has undergone similarly resembles what many McMaster athletes have found themselves striving for during the pandemic. With many struggling to find the resources they would’ve had at McMaster, and the limited and potentially cancelled practices, they’ve had to find ways to keep pushing through.
Whether it’s working with a trainer, finding new training methods at home or doing their best to train with their teams despite the restrictions, these student-athletes have found ways to keep getting better, and they’re undoubtedly looking forward to showcasing these new improvements next season.
Student job applicants need to be vetted more to prevent harm within our communities
CW: sexual violence, racism
As a student, there are many ways you can get involved at McMaster University. Whether it’s becoming a representative for Welcome Week, being a mentor for McMaster’s many mentorship programs, volunteering for the Student Wellness Centre or getting involved with the McMaster Students Union — there are plenty of opportunities for everyone. Some positions are paid as well — for example, a few part-time paid roles that students can apply for are the Archway mentor position where you mentor around 40 first year students, and a Residence Orientation Assistant, which manages a team of Residence Orientation Representatives throughout the school year.
Notably, a number of student jobs involve interacting with other students or prospective students, whether it is providing support to certain individuals or helping first-year students transition into university. Thus, it is important that individuals in these positions are properly trained for situations that may arise, such as sexual violence disclosures and situations surrounding discrimination. However, I believe that individuals entering these paid positions should also have some form of background check during the application process to make sure that they can respond to serious issues properly.
While training for paid positions is often provided surrounding these topics, the training can come in the form of a short Mosaic quiz or a two-hour workshop done by the Equity and Inclusion Office on responding to sexual violence disclosures. As someone who has completed many pieces of training on sexual violence, bystander intervention and anti-oppressive practices, I believe that training is often not enough to aid individuals in responding to disclosures if they’ve never done so in the past. If a student has responded to a disclosure in a harmful way in the past, I am doubtful that training will be able to equip these students adequately so that they do not cause harm again. As a result, they may intentionally or unintentionally cause harm to the people they interact with.
If a student has responded to a disclosure in a harmful way in the past, I am doubtful that training will be able to equip these students adequately so that they do not cause harm again. As a result, they may intentionally or unintentionally cause harm to the people they interact with.
Currently, many student jobs are heavily involved with the student body, such as McMaster Students Union part-time managers, Archway mentors or ROAs. However, in applications for these positions, there is little to no focus on how applicants have responded or would respond to serious incidents unless the job directly entails responding to disclosures, such as being a part-time manager of a peer support service. Many positions that my friends and I have applied for often focus on what relevant experience you have for a job or what ideas you want to bring to the role. Unfortunately, questions that focus on responding to incidents of violence are far and few between. It is especially vital that students in these positions know how to deal with difficult situations so that they do not cause harm to others.
As comprehensive as training can be, you can’t always train individuals to change their beliefs. By performing some form of background or reference check on applicants, you can vet whether they would be able to respond to harmful incidents well. Jobs outside of university that involve providing care, minors or vulnerable people require vulnerable sector checks. If certain student jobs involve support, students that are minors or people in vulnerable situations, it only makes sense that this standard is applied to students as well.
Checking to see how students have responded to incidents regarding harassment, sexual violence or discrimination in the past is important because it can be a good indicator of how they will respond to these things in the future. Whether you check their history by seeing if they have a negative record with McMaster or ask their co-workers or past bosses, this is something that should be done more frequently. Sure, training may be able to alter someone’s behaviour to some extent, but it is unlikely to completely reform someone from a few hours of training.
Checking to see how students have responded to incidents regarding harassment, sexual violence or discrimination in the past is important because it can be a good indicator of how they will respond to these things in the future.
In addition, many student job interviews lack questions where one can ask the applicant about issues such as sexual violence or racism to highlight any red flags. Even if the job is not directly related to dealing with discrimination or sexual violence, these situations can come up regardless, so it is important to make sure that people can respond appropriately.
Although student jobs are often part-time and temporary, they can still have a big impact on our community. That’s why it’s important to make sure that students in paid positions are adequately prepared to respond to any situation that may come up so that they don’t respond to an issue in a way that harms someone else.
On Nov. 26, 89 per cent of the Canadian Union of Public Employes 3906’s Unit 1 members voted in favour of ratifying a tentative agreement with the university, thus avoiding a strike. CUPE 3906 Unit 1 represents research and teaching assistants in both graduate and undergraduate programs at McMaster.
Voting began on Nov. 25, immediately following CUPE 3906’s Special General Membership Meeting. At this meeting, the new agreement between TAs and the university was presented to Unit 1 members.
According to CUPE 3906 president Nathan Todd, the union was able to secure a deal that met their main bargaining priorities, which included paid TA training, increased benefits and expanded paid pregnancy and parental leave.
“It's not accurate to say that TAs had most of their demands met, but we were able to secure a significant gain that members had identified as a big priority,” stated Todd in an email.
The full agreement between TAs and the university has not been released. However, CUPE 3906 released an overview of the agreement on Nov. 27.
The tentative agreement includes five additional hours of paid pedagogical and anti-oppression training for all TAs. In previous years, the collective agreement has allocated TAs three paid hours a semester to participate in health and safety and orientation training. According to CUPE 3906, this was not enough.
“Additional hours of paid pedagogical and anti-oppression training were the biggest gain insofar as it was one of the largest priorities identified by the membership. This gain speaks not only to improving our pay but also to improving our working conditions,” wrote Todd in an email.
“Additional hours of paid pedagogical and anti-oppression training were the biggest gain insofar as it was one of the largest priorities identified by the membership."
The tentative agreement also proposes a one per cent increase in wages for the next three years. Collective agreements usually mandate annual wage increases so that wages keep up with the rate of inflation. As of this month, yearly inflation in Ontario sits at 1.7 per cent.
During the bargaining process for the collective agreement, CUPE 3906 advocated against the one per cent wage cap. CUPE 3906 stated that the wage limit would cause harm to workers’ livelihoods because their wages would not keep up with the rate of inflation.
Todd cites Bill 124 — the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act — as the reason TAs were limited to a one per cent increase in wages. Under Bill 124, which received Royal Assent on Nov. 7, salary increases to public employees are limited to one per cent for every twelve month period.
Currently, graduate and undergraduate TAs are paid $43.63 and $25.30 per hour, respectively. Under the tentative agreement, graduate and undergraduate TAs will receive $44.07 and $25.55 per hour beginning Sept. 1, 2020. Beginning Sept. 2021 they will receive $44.95 and $26.07 per hour.
Todd emphasized that while Bill 124 made negotiations difficult, he believes that CUPE 3906 got the best deal given the circumstances.
In addition to paid training and wages, the tentative agreement also expands paid pregnancy and family medical leave, and dedicates a fund towards supporting members seeking gender affirmation.
Todd emphasized that while Bill 124 made negotiations difficult, he believes that CUPE 3906 got the best deal given the circumstances.
“I hope our members and the broader McMaster community recognize that government and university policies which contribute to rising costs of living (including tuition) and precarious employment makes labour relations more difficult, and that such policies can be resisted and defeated by union and community members,” wrote Todd in an email.
The tentative agreement must now be ratified by McMaster’s Board of Governors, set to take place on Dec. 12. If ratified, the agreement will take immediate effect.
By Nathan Todd, Contributor
This year, Ontario has seen significant and damaging cuts to funding for students, student associations, universities and the public employees who keep universities and communities running.
Many of you may have already felt the impact of these changes — there are already reports of students who are no longer able to attend university because of the elimination of some Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) grants. In addition, the Student Choice Initiative left student and graduate associations scrambling over the summer in attempts to prepare for and minimize the funding cuts that the SCI would bring.
Teaching assistants who are often students are not immune to these negative effects. As students, we are affected by the cuts to OSAP, and as members of either the McMaster Students Union or the Graduate Students Association, we are also members of associations facing considerable budget cuts. On top of this, our ongoing rounds of bargaining with McMaster University for a new employment contract, among other things, threatens to leave us in an even more precarious situation.
As public employees, we are also now facing Bill 124, a proposed piece of legislation which would mandate that our wage increases do not exceed one per cent, an amount that does not keep up with the cost of inflation. In other words, Bill 124 effectively mandates that we take pay cuts over the next three years.
To put this in a better context, graduate TAs who work 260 hours (which is usually the most a TA can work at Mac) earn less than $11,500 for the year, and undergraduate TAs earn considerably less than that. This is not enough to balance the tuition we need to pay in order to have access to the job in the first place. Given these circumstances, increases to our wages and benefits are always a priority for us in bargaining. Unfortunately, McMaster is not willing to entertain an agreement that wouldn’t conform to Bill 124 should the bill become law. Therefore, meaningful wage increases seem to be a non-starter for the university.
Beyond Bill 124, McMaster is also looking to roll back the amount of hours TAs are entitled to work, making our ability to pay for tuition and keep up with the cost of living even more difficult.
Wage increases are not our only priority. One of the top priorities we identified before heading into bargaining was paid job-specific and anti-oppressive training for TAs. As it stands, there is no training for TAs. This means that they are learning how to run labs, teach tutorials, mentor and grade on the job! In asking for paid training, we are not asking for anything you wouldn’t expect from working in an office, a high school or a McDonald’s.
McMaster, however, is unsure if paid TA training is feasible. Let me repeat that: A university isn’t sure if it is feasible to teach people how to teach.
As a TA of about five years, I think we do a good job. But running tutorials and grading the assignments that go on to impact the lives of undergraduates is serious, professional work. As TAs, we recognize that. This is why we are asking for professional training to ensure that undergraduates are getting the highest quality teaching possible. Not only would paid training help TAs financially, but it would also benefit us professionally and it would benefit the students who rely on us.
If our bargaining continues to stall, there is a chance you will get messages from McMaster or members in the community about TAs being difficult or that what we are asking for is unreasonable. If this happens, please keep in mind that we are asking for things that any reasonable professional ought to — the ability to keep up with the cost of inflation and the proper training to do our jobs.
Given the attacks that university members have seen through the cuts to OSAP, the Student Choice Initiative and the looming Bill 124, it is more important than ever that we collectively resist attacks on the most vulnerable. McMaster claims it is committed to making a “Brighter World” – TAs and students deserve to be part of it.
Nathan Todd is the President of CUPE 3906
From the Student Representative Assembly requiring a survivor to disclose their assault in order for the removal of a perpetrator on the assembly to news of rampant sexual assault within the McMaster Students Union Maroons, this past year has been filled with controversy.
Given the events of this year, and what has occurred in the past, it is shocking that the MSU lacks a formal human resources department.
HR departments exist to deal with workplace disputes and ultimately ensure that employees are aware of their rights as minimally outlined by the Ontario Employment Standards Act. This includes the creation, implementation and enforcement of policies and structures that support employee rights like formal complaint structures and disciplinary policies.
Currently, the only HR presence that exists within the MSU is through the operations coordinator, Maddison Hampel. Though Hampel has formalized HR training and experience, her role does not allow her to adequately support all HR functions of the MSU.
Unfortunately, the only HR-focused training for student employees ends at the mandatory online workplace health and safety training modules that all employees of McMaster University are required to complete.
The majority of student employees, myself included, have never even been formally introduced to Hampel or made aware of our employment rights during our training sessions.
If we had a formal HR department, it is extremely likely that the Maroons sexual assault allegations would have been dealt with appropriately.
In fact, with a proper HR department, policies for sexual assault and workplace harassment would likely already be in place, and be created by individuals with the expertise to do so.
A formal HR department could also allow for better and more comprehensive hiring practices wherein individuals who were previously reported to the department are properly dealt with and not re-hired for other positions within the MSU, a consistent problem of the institution.
At the very least, an HR department that is independent of the MSU could allow student workers to feel comfortable reporting any issues. As it stands, I report my workplace issues to my direct supervisors, but this gets complicated if my concerns are about individuals in positions of power.
An HR department can ensure supervisors are accountable for their actions and held to an expected level of professionalism.
Josh Marando, president-elect of the MSU for the 2019-2020 year, has acknowledged that the lack of a formal HR department is an issue. One of his platform points is to restructure the internal operations of the MSU.
According to his #BuildTogether platform, he plans to divide the current full-time staff position of operations coordinator to create a specific HR coordinator who is independent from the board.
While the operations coordinator’s role would be shifted to focus largely on supporting clubs and internal operations, the proposed HR coordinator is meant to “support our students through connecting with university programs that have a focus on equity and anti-discrimination.”
Though creation of an independent HR coordinator is an important first step, it is not enough. The MSU is comprised of over 40 full-time permanent staff and 300 part-time student staff. A singular HR coordinator cannot possibly support this vast number of employees.
The lumping of the HR coordinator role with equity and anti-discrimination programs can also be problematic. Certainly the future HR coordinator can and should consult with equity groups to ensure their policies are consistent with student needs, but it is important that the two ultimately remain separate.
This is because it is possible that issues concerning diversity and discrimination may arise from the HR department. This would then make it difficult for individuals to report issues to the same department where the issues stem from.
What the MSU needs is a full-blown autonomous HR department, with policies in place and trained personnel. Only through implementation of an HR department can the MSU truly account for the safety of its student employees.
It’s important to remember that students employed by the MSU are employees. They deserve the same respect and safety enforced by a HR department in any other workplace.
Honestly, student workers should be unionized to ensure their rights are defended. Until they are, the MSU must do a better job in the 2019-2020 year of protecting their employees through implementation of formal HR resources and personnel.
By: Jenna Tziatis, Marketing Assistant, McMaster University Continuing Education
In today’s tough job market a degree alone may not be enough to get you the job or promotion that you’re looking for. Employer expectations are higher and are expecting more than the knowledge that comes with a degree. They are also scrutinizing candidates based on their enhanced skill-sets and experience to ensure they are hiring someone who will fit and integrate into their business and culture with the least disruption.
Savvy students are realizing this trend and responding by upskilling themselves to ensure that they stand out in the employment crowd and that their resume rises to the top of the pile. If you’re thinking about getting ahead, McMaster Continuing Education offers a variety of learning options from diplomas and certificates to micro learning options. Whether your focus is in the field of business, health or professional development, there are many to choose from:
To make it easier for Mac students, McMaster Continuing Education offers a faster route to get you ahead with Degree + Diploma. This opportunity allows you to earn a diploma or certificate while you work toward your degree. You can use your elective credits in your current program of study toward a diploma or certificate with Continuing Education, allowing you to gain your qualifications faster. This opportunity is gaining popularity among Mac students and can be easily set up by contacting your Academic Advisor.
If you’re not ready to jump straight into getting a diploma or certificate you can always try one of McMaster Continuing Education professional development courses or attend our upcoming free Business Entrepreneur Series micro learning session that is running in spring. It’s a great way to gain valuable and recognized skills in a condensed learning format. To attend this series you can sign up at mcmastercce.ca/events/free-business-entrepreneurship-series
Regardless of what you decide, by recognizing the demands of today’s job market and being proactive to acquire the skills that businesses are looking for will make you more visible and appealing to employers. Continuing Education will give you that competitive edge to get ahead and land that job you’re looking for.
To learn more about these valuable learning options visit www.mcmastercce.ca
By: Eden Wondmeneh
Faculty representatives and Maroons can shape incoming students’ initial impression of the McMaster University community. They guide us through Welcome Week and are meant to play the role of mentor and role model.
A few days into Welcome Week, new students grow accustomed to the vibrant suits and are well-aware of the colour distinctions of each faculty. Suddenly the suit, which at first glance may appear as a horrendous fashion statement, is at the top of many first-year students’ wish lists.
For some students who hope to mentor and inspire incoming students, becoming a faculty representative during Welcome Week is not feasible.
Even if they do make it through the competitive application process, they are unable to participate due to representative fees that candidates are not made aware of at any point during the application process.
On Jan. 22, a call was released on the DeGroote Commerce Society Facebook page for 2019 business faculty representatives. Applications were due by Feb. 1, with prospective green suits contacted for interviews.
The role requires faculty representatives to attend two training sessions prior to summer break and another session the week prior to Welcome Week. Green suits are also highly encouraged to participate in May at Mac and Shine-o-rama, both orientation events running during the summer break.
Despite the large time commitment and the cost of the $60 green suit itself, students who made it through the application process and ultimately became a green suit, were immensely excited about the experience to come.
This excitement, however, was soured with the introduction of a representative fee of over a hundred dollars that was not advertised at any point during the application process.
The representative fee is a confusing, hidden fee that prospective and new faculty representatives are appalled by. The fee is estimated to be around $120.00, but with the McMaster Students Union funding cuts, new representatives expect this to be a low-ball estimate and have yet to be informed of the final cost.
This cost is said to cover training, food and participation in Welcome Week. This contribution to Welcome Week especially annoys students who never signed up to subsidize part of Welcome Week that as first-year students we already paid a mandatory $120.98 First-Year Orientation levy for.
For business students fees to join clubs specific to their faculty is not uncommon. Most clubs require students to pay a small fee for registration.
However, in the case of the representative fee that impacts all faculty reps, the fee is substantial, and no one made them aware of the fee prior to joining. With a lack of discussion of financial support, some students are genuinely happy they didn’t make the cut.
It is simply unfair for students who underwent the incredibly extensive process to become a faculty representative to be cut from the position because of an inability to pay for the high fees.
The faculty representative fee ensures that those who are willing and chosen to volunteer their time to enrich and support incoming students secure their spot by coughing up money.
If this is the inequitable model the green suits and other faculty society representatives decide to rely on, then they should at least be transparent to their applicants.
By: Evonne Syed
The topic of integrating artificial intelligence and robots into the workforce rouses the concern of anyone wishing to enter the job market, and the same goes for postsecondary students.
Fortunately, the future is optimistic for students as automation is not expected to prevent graduates from attaining their career goals.
In fact, the rise of automation actually improves career prospects for university graduates, as it is creating a new job market. Forbes Magazine reports that artificial intelligence is predicted to create 58 million jobs as 2022 approaches.
As the popularity of automation systems and the use of artificial intelligence in the workplace becomes more widespread, there will be more and more people required to actually build and develop these systems.
This will open up opportunities for those who wish to enter the fields of robotics and information technology. BBC News anticipates the prominence of data analysts, social media specialists and software developers, as a result.
For this reason, while one may argue that automation has resulted in the elimination of certain jobs, the introduction of automation in the workforce is actually creating more jobs and opportunities in our current digital age.
Luckily, McMaster University has many programs to equip students with the necessary skills to flourish in our digital age. The recent construction of the Hatch Centre shows McMaster’s testament to students advancing in these fields.
Even if one is not interested in working in the field of automation, that does not mean that they are otherwise at risk of being unable to obtain a job. There is an increasing demand for “human skills” in the workforce since these skills are what distinguish robots from actual human beings.
University graduates tend to seek out careers that require a higher level of education which simply cannot be programmed into automation systems. It would be way too costly and time consuming to teach a robot the knowledge a person has acquired from their post-secondary education.
There are also plenty of skills, academic and otherwise, that students learn and develop through their time at university. Education and experiential opportunities prepare students to apply their knowledge in a variety of situations.
For example, critical thinking skills and problem solving are transferable “soft skills” that employers seek and students develop during their time at university.
Some jobs require humanistic qualities, which are simply not possible for a machine to replicate. For instance, no matter how much technology advances, robots may never be capable of understanding human emotions and experiences.
The interpersonal skills, empathy and compassion that people develop by interacting with one another are skills that are beneficial for the work environment. These skills equip anyone to thrive professionally as the future of the job outlook changes.
Technological advancements such as automation will inevitably impact life as we know it, and that includes changing our work environments. However, these changes are not inherently harmful and the possibilities for post-secondary graduates remain promising.
Students must be proactive, take initiative to educate themselves as much as possible and work on developing these skills. Provided that students make the most of their university experience, and are willing to undergo some extra training to keep their learning sharp, robots are sure to have nothing on them.
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.