SciCons may be disbanded

EngSoc task force recommends cancelling Science Constables, hiring StuCons instead

Dan Whalen says using StuCons for EngSoc events would be the most practical option.
Dan Whalen says using StuCons for EngSoc events would be the most practical option.
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The Engineering Society’s Science Constable services may not be re-established if EngSoc’s Clark Hall Pub Task Force’s recommendations are followed through.

All SciCons were dismissed along with the rest of the Clark Hall Pub staff when EngSoc closed the pub in June.

The report, released Dec. 15, suggests contracting AMS Student Constables for EngSoc-sanctioned events in the future.

SciCons must be Engineering students, according to EngSoc’s policy manual on student services. SciCons, as members of Clark Hall Pub’s staff, are required to enforce liquor-licence laws, be present at EngSoc-sponsored events and be held accountable to the head SciCon.

EngSoc Vice-President (Operations) Rob Macnamara said the report’s recommendations for eliminating SciCon services haven’t yet been finalized by EngSoc Council.

“We’ve had a discussion about the report before, and we decided we would come back to it in three weeks,” he said.

If the report’s recommendations are followed, future StuCons working at any EngSoc event will answer to EngSoc’s vice-president (operations). Event organizers would be directly responsible for the costs of employing StuCon services.

StuCon head manager and Chief StuCon Dan Whalen said having a single student security service would be more practical than operating SciCons and StuCons separately.

“The reason we decided this was the option we endorsed is based on the success we’ve seen this year with orientation—Clark Hall Pub events that have been normally supervised by StuCons,” he said. “Those have gone very well. We thought that this would be most practical to have just one service.”

This year, StuCons supervised EngSoc events such as the Grease Pole in the absence of SciCons.

Whalen said this option was the most feasible because it offers both consistency and accountability.

“StuCons have been operating for a number of years,” he said. “We have thorough training … for a variety of situations and specific procedures, which this year has included many engineering events. I don’t foresee any issues at this point.”

Whalen said contracting StuCons wouldn’t remove the familiarity with Applied Science traditions characteristic to SciCons, and emphasized that engineering students can equally apply for student constable positions.

“StuCons give equal opportunity to the student body. We have staff members who are engineers, we have worked events that have been predominantly worked by engineers.”

The report also recommended hiring a Chief SciCon and up to two deputy SciCons who would oversee student constable operations at engineering events and assist EngSoc’s vice-president (operations).

Macnamara told the Journal changes in training procedures may help minimize any loss of the applied science tradition.

“We’d train everyone with how science events happen. We’d be capable of providing effective security efforts,” he said, adding that security personnel would no longer be able to work as event staff due to provincial legislation coming into effect this summer.

“This is because having to police a supervisor is not an acceptable organizational structure, and generally not accepted as good business practice,” he said.

“Bill 159 will require formal training that can meet the training pro standards that it is enforcing … [It] is sort of pushing us to act quickly to change the service. That’s all discussed in the report, to how services are changed more appropriately to meet the bill.”

Mikhail Clarkson, Sci ’07, was head SciCon in 2006-07 and organized training procedures.

Clarkson told the Journal SciCon training last summer ranged from basic tasks such as mopping and cleaning bathrooms to more advanced tasks such as situational training.

“We split into groups and … did a kind of rotation at Clark,” he said. “Managers had different stations, and we’d teach them the duties of the pub.

“One specific situation would be where there were a couple of guys yelling at each other at a bar. … How would a SciCon approach that situation? We’d do a role play, and we’d have the guys do it.”

Clarkson said he also taught SciCons a technique called “confront and cover” for dealing with aggressors.

“We taught confrontational postures, body language, and speech techniques to calm down people.”

Clarkson told the Journal SciCons were trained better than any other security staff in Kingston.

“Our track record proves it. At the time I was there at Clark, there was not one fight or injury at Clark Hall,” he said. “SciCons are able to diffuse a situation so no one gets hurt. Sure, we kicked people out all the time, but the main focus of the whole process was to protect the dignity of Clark Hall and the dignity of the aggressor.”

Clarkson said the low turnover rate and a flexible hiring policy was also an advantage for operating SciCons.

“This let us keep people and give them experience they can pass on to train other people,” he said. “That was the real advantage.”

Former Clark Hall bartender Alisa Yokom, MSc ’08, said SciCons were integral to Clark Hall’s safety and security.

“I think what I’m worried about is contracting out to StuCons who don’t have ownership of the bar and what that would mean for safety. More so, SciCons were a huge part of Clark, a part of staff who we worked together with,” she said. “They did jobs that StuCons don’t do, like cleaning toilets.”

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