Some UBC students are calling on the school administration to reinstate night staff in university residence halls.
Effective August 1, UBC ended 24/7 staffing in student residences in favor of new “overnight mobile teams.” The administration of Residence and School Life said the change was necessary due to staffing issues.
A group of students have now penned an open letter opposing the change, which they say reduces security, while ending nighttime access to gymnasiums, study areas and common rooms at the residence.
“In the event of a medical emergency or hazardous situation, front desk staff have been a critical point of contact for residents,” the letter reads.
“If something were to happen overnight, students will not only have to have access to a phone for help, but they will also have to wait for the (overnight mobile team) to arrive…this change could have disastrous consequences in an emergency. situation. »
Kamil Kanji, vice president of academic and university affairs at the UBC Alma Matter Society, said the student union shares the open letter’s concerns.
He said the new mobile teams had not been tested and there was no evidence they would be as good as having in-person staff.
And he added that the change would leave students waiting longer to access security services, while losing the personal touch that might be needed in a sticky situation.
“A face-to-face resource is truly more beneficial than having to wait and make a phone call and have campus security or other night shift members find their way to you first and then try to resolve. the problem, whereas normally it’s much easier to speak directly and have a friendly face that you know and have seen come and go from your building,” he said.
“And if there are emergencies in multiple residence halls on campus, AMS is very concerned that there won’t be adequate service in all residence halls.”
On Friday, students PKBNEWS spoke to at UBC’s Point Gray campus had mixed reactions to the change.
“A phone call – it’s like you can’t see their face, so the emotions don’t come through,” Kelly Lee said. “The person who picks up may not understand.”
Adam Lee said he understands the university’s position on the challenge of filling night shifts and has always felt safe enough on campus.
“I understand why it’s not so essential anymore. After COVID, we all sort of got used to not having that face-to-face interaction,” he said. “It doesn’t affect me that much, but I can certainly understand why other people wouldn’t feel so safe.”
In a statement, UBC a*sociate vice president of student accommodation and community services Andrew Parr said the change was necessary to “enhance the continuity and sustainability” of services.
“Increasingly, residence life and administration have faced staffing issues at reception, particularly at night, resulting in last-minute closures and a consequent reduction in student services,” Parr said. . “By creating dedicated teams of mobile night staff, we are able to improve service levels for students day and night.”
Parr said students can still access services overnight by calling a central number from their phone or using any blue phone on campus.
UBC has 15 residence halls on its Point Gray campus, housing more than 13,000 students.
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