What We Want You to Know About First-Year
Our most extensive guide for parents and guardians of incoming first-year residence students.
Information Box Group
What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Call
While first-year is a big change for your student, it’s also going to be a challenging time for you. If you’re used to your student living under your roof, responding to your calls/texts in a timely fashion, and always coming home for dinner, the first few weeks of school may come as a shocker to you.
If your student doesn’t text back right away, this doesn’t mean that they are in an unsafe situation or are ignoring you – they are likely going through a perfectly normal adjustment period as they establish new routines, make new friends and attend classes at all hours of the day (some even end at 10 p.m!.).
Usually by Thanksgiving students have developed a routine, get a little homesick and are grateful for the return home for the long weekend. But like any big life change, you may need to give them time and space to figure out this exciting new chapter or their life!
If you are concerned about your student, please contact the Residence Life Office below.
Safety and Security
Safety is everyone’s responsibility in residence. Nothing can spoil an experience more than not feeling safe in a new environment. As such, there are several building features, safety initiatives, and campus partnerships in place to make sure students have a great first-year.
Just like the locks and smoke detectors at home, residence buildings are outfitted with a variety of equipment and systems to keep students safe throughout the year.
- All buildings are equipped with proximity-access card readers which only unlock the main doors of their specific building to card holders
- All buildings have 24/7 electronic surveillance cameras in a variety of non-intrusive areas
- All rooms are equipped with industrial grade locking systems
- Resident lock-out keys are only provided to students when matched against photo ID at our 24/7 Service Centres
- All first floor window are equipped with professional grade re-enforced security screens
- All buildings are equipped with smoke and heat detectors, fire extinguishers, hoses and alarms, which are all checked regularly
- All buildings have security intercom systems located outside the secured front doors
Practice makes perfect. There are several proactive programs in place to ensure the ongoing safety of resident students. These include initiatives such as:
- Weekly fire tests and randomized building evacuation drills to evaluate preparedness
- Nightly Residence Life Staff coverage rounds between the hours of 9pm to 8am
- Emergency Pager number available for residents during Residence Life Staff coverage
- 24/7 Professional Residence Managers on-call to respond to emergency/crisis situations
- An extensive Guest/Escort Policy based on accountability, permission, and courtesy
- Annual Inter-Residence Council Safety Audit completed in conjunction with Housing & Conference Services
- Clearly defined Emergency Procedures which are posted and covered with residents in September
- Building access points restricted after 9 p.m. to streamline traffic patterns to main building entrances
Student Walk Home Attendant Team (SWHAT) 905-525-9140 ext 27500 SWHAT is a student run volunteer organization dedicated to improving personal safety on campus. Volunteer teams (one male & female) will walk anywhere within a 30 minute radius from campus or take the bus with students traveling downtown Hamilton. If you’re interested in learning more, click here.
Emergency First Response Team (EFRT) 905-522-4135 EFRT is a volunteer organization, on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the school year. They respond to any medical emergency on campus in a team of 3 responders, with an impressive response time of 1-2 minutes. Trained in both the Red Cross’ Emergency First Responder and Toronto Ambulance’s International Trauma Life Support courses, these responders come equipped with oxygen, an automated external defibrillator (AED), and EpiPens. If you’re interested in learning more, click here.
McMaster Security Services 905-522-4135 McMaster Security Officers are sworn Peace Officers – appointed under the authority of the Ontario Police Services Act. Their appointments give them the powers of a Peace Officer and enable them to enforce the Criminal Code of Canada, Federal and Provincial statutes and Municipal by-laws on the University Campus via foot, bike, and car. If you’re interested in learning more, click here.
Technology alone cannot ensure the security of everyone living in residence. In many instances changing the way you think about your home can prevent most problems. Some popular suggestions from resident students on how to help watch-out for themselves and their friends include:
- Lock your doors whenever you are not in your room. A small action can prevent big problems.
- Escort your guests rather than allowing them to wander freely. THEIR actions are YOUR actions.
- Don’t let people ‘tailgate’ after you when entering the front door. Do you know who just followed you in?
- Approach strangers on your floor & report anything suspicious to a student staff member.
- Do not prop open any building entrance door. Let the technology do its job.
“My Student Can’t Stand Their Roommate”
Learning to live and get along with new people can be one of the greatest challenges they will face while at McMaster. Even best friends often have the most difficult time living together, simply because they didn’t sit down and talk about some ground rules for the year. Your student and their roommate(s) may become best friends, or they may not. They may choose to do very little together, or spend quite a bit of time together. Whichever way it works out for them, the experience will be equally valuable.
The most common cause of roommate conflict stems from the little things that are not addressed until they seem huge: the clothes lying around the room or the number of guests their roommate has or the lights being left on or the window left open. Coupled with these types of issues is the need to incorporate and accept the diverse living traditions of the many different cultures and backgrounds right here on campus.
To help with the transition to living with a roommate, each double, triple or quad room will complete what we call a Roommate Agreement. To assist with setting expectations early, each residence student is provided with a time period within which to complete a facilitated agreement with those they will be living with for the next 8 months. This activity is facilitated by your student’s Community Advisor and is designed to allow students to get to know each other in an honest and open fashion. It is important students take this exercise very seriously as it will go a long way to establishing clear expectations and avoid awkward or frustrating situations from occurring.
Specifically, this activity consists of several sections with a series of incomplete sentences in each section, which touch on the following areas:
- About My Background (family, friends, high school, etc)
- Personal Preferences (music, personality, dealing with conflict, etc)
- Your Habits, and Characteristics (sleep, eating, cleanliness, etc)
If your student has concerns about their roommate, please encourage them to contact their Community Advisor or Residence Life Area Coordinator.
Can I Visit My Student In Residence?
Many parents enjoy visiting their student on campus to see how they are adjusting to university life. If you plan to visit your student and would like to stay the night, our Signature Suites are available year-long and combine the comfort apartment living with the convenience of staying on-campus. Visit our website and learn more about what we have to offer.
Please note that as per the guest policy for 2022-2023, only one guest is permitted in residence rooms after Welcome Week is complete. There is a strict no-guest policy in place during move-in weekend and Welcome Week.