#MyPondIs campaign aims to gather student
feedback through social media
A joint campaign between The Pond and S.H.A.R.E is attempting to increase safety at the campus pub, but is lacking any feedback from students.
Andy Hebert, manager of the Pond, said the #MyPondIs campaign is an attempt to get input about why students feel unsafe at the pub. This is a joint campaign between the Pond and S.H.A.R.E. Justina Awe, Hebert’s student intern sanctioned through the International Centre, came up with the idea for the campaign. Awe said the hashtag is intended to get feedback via social media.
Last February, concerns about safety at The Pond came to light following reactions about a “Men’s night” event for Valentine’s day. The event was intended as a wings, beer and sport night at The Pond.
Comments on the event page raised concerns about “Men’s night,” calling it insensitive and inappropriate following a CBC report on sexual assault rates on N.B. university campuses. The article cited Mount Allison as having the highest reported sexual assault rate in N.B.
“This is a student pub and I want the students to come here and feel safe, and it’s the whole reason why we are here—to have a safe environment where students can come to unwind,” said Hebert.
“The Pond is not a neutral space. You can’t just go dance with your friends; you will definitely have guys come up to you without your permission,” said Gaby Steeves, a fourth-year international relations student.
Zoe Luba, also a fourth-year IR student, said she had an experience in her second year in which she was dancing with another student and decided she no longer wanted to continue. Luba said she tried to exit the situation but could not. Luba said when she was able to leave the situation, she hid in the bathroom for a long period of time as she felt she could not avoid this individual.
“I’m generally assertive: I’m a strong feminist, I can stand up for myself, but being put in that position was really hard […] and no one should have to deal with that,” said Luba.
Harley Pye, a former Mt. A student, said that an older student had been very aggressive toward her at The Pond. “It got to the point that he was asking for my room number and […] my friends had to pull him off of me,” said Pye.
Amber Fortin, a fifth-year IR student and bartender at The Pond, said the campus pub is better in comparison to other bars in which she has worked, where generally multiple patrons are thrown out each night. The patrons at the bars Fortin has previously worked in were usually kicked out for drug use and fighting.
Fortin said she feels very safe in her work environment. “We get rude patrons, but that’s just the service industry,” she said.
“If we do see something we will grab the ESS [Event Services Staff] and they will do something about that. Many of the guys and girls who work in ESS are good about that,” said Fortin.
Event Services Staff (ESS) are trained as a form of student security. All ESS are trained in first aid and are encouraged to have their Smartserve, said Hebert. The ESS also go through a half-day training session which covers how to deal with intoxicated patrons, how to work a residence party and a session from Melody Petlock which covers dealing with harassment. Hebert said during training there is also a member of the RCMP who comes in a explains what the laws are for ejecting patrons.
“I have never approached ESS,” said Luba. “I find them a little intimidating and I’ve had other instances where they haven’t been the most sensitive towards some of my friends […] but I do appreciate what they’re trying to do to make The Pond a safer space.”
Steeves said she once approached ESS when she saw a student at the Pond who looked as though she could not give consent to leave with the person who was keeping her standing. “We asked them to keep an eye on her, but I don’t know if they actually did,” said Steeves.
Luba said she believes the issue is bigger than The Pond, but rather something the university should be addressing. “I think we need to have bigger changes, there needs to be a solidified anti-sexual harassment policy established in Mount Allison student governance as well as more anti-harassment policies. If we don’t have those solidified written down things then we can’t expect that change to happen,” said Luba.
Pye said consent classes may also be an interesting incorporation on campus. “If done correctly, they could be something interesting to consider,” said Pye.
There is currently very little feedback to the campaign itself. Hebert said The Pond is planning on increasing its visibility.
Awe encouraged students to get involved in the campaign. “People should comment because this is your school, and your pub […] we want your feedback because the people here are here to serve you and we want to know what we can do it improve it.”