When I applied to Laurier Brantford, the one major concern I had with school was my safety. Like some, I never stepped foot on Brantford soil until the first day of Orientation Week. It seemed great; the school was awesome, until I walked outside at night for the first time alone. I was shaking. My first night, I encountered strangers, random people digging through garbage and people who seemed to be intoxicated. I never knew there was such a thing as Foot Patrol.
Foot Patrol has become an amazing service that has been made available on campus. The service is run by students and has proved to be a major success; the service’s motto is “No walk is too short”. With an average of 40 walks a night; the service continues to be an open door policy with excited students to give you that walk to and from school. Although the service is considered to be a value by many, they face major criticisms for their services from students. I find it heartbreaking to see students who criticize other students who volunteer their time to ensure someone else’s safety, just because one incident may not fit in your expectations. The safety of students is the number one priority and the premise of foot patrol, so why do people assume it’s their personal taxi service?
We discussed how just want a friendly walk home, as opposed to walking by himself or herself, or having to walk with reluctant volunteers. I learned that these volunteers accomplish more than many suspect behind the scenes, including their partnership with the Special Constable Service to do “red flag sweeps” throughout the night, assuring the school is as safe as possible with all buildings locked. People need to understand these volunteers are doing more than just walking you home after a party.
Although it seems like a positive service, the popular page, “Spotted at Laurier Brantford” on Facebook has given the service an anonymous run for its money. People have been known to treat Foot Patrol as their personal taxi service, which isn’t its mandate at all. Students tend to abuse the system of foot patrol and when I questioned a Foot Patrol executive about it, he said, “We are here to get you home safely from a school building, we’re not here to take you shopping, take you to the movies, take you for dinner, we have one van, some students abuse the system, and some students expect us to be there for their leisure time”. Although it may seem frustrating to some students that Foot Patrol is not a taxi service, it is an extreme frustration for Foot Patrol volunteers when students don’t understand the actual services that they provide. The service is only made available for students who are travelling from home to campus, or vice-versa, or if students hold a job in Brantford, the drive team will be available to pick students up and give them a ride home. To me, the volunteers can’t just agree to walk students home and stop there, there should be a feeling of warmth with conversation, a belief shared by Foot Patrol executives such as Ben Howard.
General volunteers and program executives alike share my view. If you have a problem with the service, speak to them directly or join so you can hope to bring upon the changes you want to see. For now, and for the foreseeable future, this service is here to help you within their mandate, not yours.
I see Foot Patrol as a valuable service; it’s not something that should be treated as your personal limo. They do their best to get everyone home and they take time out of their night to do so. It’s not fair that students blame Foot Patrol for their services, if you get somewhere out of reach in Brantford leisurely, take it into your own responsibility to get home. Think before you speak, or at least speak with your name present and not behind a wall of anonymity.