How to stay safe in student season

August 25, 2010

Guelph Mercury, 10/25/08 invasion

Frosh Week is just around the corner, and already residents are barricading the doors and putting the police on speed dial.

But after a quiet, peaceful summer, we don’t have to start living in fear again. The Mercer Retort offers these helpful tips to make this upcoming student season a safe and enjoyable one. Cut this out and put it on your fridge:

Remember, more than anything, students are drawn by food. Never sleep near where food has been prepared. Always tie your food up in a high place, like a tree, and keep it well away from your bed. Keep booze tied up even higher.

Give students plenty of space, at least 100 metres. Do not approach them for a better look, or to take a photograph. A student will perceive this as an aggressive act.

If you encounter a student, stop moving and play dead. The student may sniff and paw you, but will become bored and move on. And never, ever run. You cannot outrun a student, and running only encourages the student to begin a pursuit.

If playing dead is not an option, always keep calm, and talk in a soft voice. Your brain is your best defence in the event of a student encounter. Back away slowly. Never approach a student. If the student is on his hind legs, this is not necessarily an aggressive stance. They may be trying to catch your scent.

If approached, do not drop food for the student. The student will perceive this as a reward for their aggressive behaviour, and will continue to act this way.

Climbing a tree is an option, but remember that students can climb trees easily. If the student still comes after you, fend them off by asking them what they plan to do with their life. This will usually cause the student to leave.

If you must walk around town, try tying bells to your pants and backpacks to alert students to your presence. That way they won’t be startled by an encounter, and are less likely to attack. An alternative is talking loudly and clapping at all times whenever you leave your house.

When leaving your home, always travel in groups, and stick to open, established roads and trails. Keep children and dogs close at hand, and only venture out in daylight.

Learn to recognize the signs of a student. A student will mark his territory with frequent outdoor urination, particularly in the downtown area. Keep an eye out for other droppings, such as bottles and beer cans — these are all signs a student may be nearby. Never, ever follow the trail of a student.

At all costs, avoid dens where students are known to live. Stay away from feeding locations, and drinking sources. A student will protect those places to no end. Most importantly, never, ever get between a student and her grubs.

Remember, students are not pets. Feeding them will not make them your friend. They are wild creatures, and live in another world than you or I. A student may look cute and cuddly, but on the inside they see you as just another meal.

Once a student becomes accustomed to being fed, they will lose their fear of people. They will stop looking for food in their own environment, and venture closer and closer into contact with people. At this stage, students become a threat to public safety.

With these helpful tips, we can all survive student season. Follow these rules carefully, and you’ll get through another school year. And remember — summer will come back. It always does.

4 Responses to How to stay safe in student season

  1. Kate Ellis on September 8, 2010 at 8:12 am

    I am quite perturbed by Greg Mercer’s Aug. 25 column on how to deal with University of Guelph students. From my standpoint, it was a waste of the newspaper’s space. Having studied at the university for the past four years as a mature student, I contend that this guide on how to react to and treat students is ironic and downright absurd.

    I assume that he thought his comparison between students and beasts of prey was funny, but it was not because he just went on and on downgrading the behaviour of the university students in Guelph. Mercer should know there is a fine line between being funny and being sarcastic.

    I consider the column an insult to humanity in general, but especially to today’s students who often go into debt to get an education. Mercer should also keep in mind that these students are adding to the financial success of many businesses in Guelph. Landlords, restaurants and other businesses profit from having students living, studying and working part-time in Guelph.

    I can personally attest that the majority of my fellow University of Guelph students display excellent behaviour.

    Maybe Mercer is a bit jealous, being that he might be past the time of possessing the laissez-faire outlook common to the younger generation before settling down into adulthood.

    Kate Ellis


  2. Pat Kubicki on September 8, 2010 at 9:45 am

    In response to the Aug. 28 letter to the editor by Kevin Lees, Humour column demeans city’s university students, it’s not merely a perception that students participate in mass consumption of alcohol, littering and outdoor urination. It’s a fact. It happens in every neighbourhood where student housing is an issue.

    Broken beer and liquor bottles litter our streets every weekend that school is in, and not as much in the summer.

    As for garbage day, I guess they don’t teach students living off campus what that really means. Maybe their heads are still cloudy from all that booze.

    Instead of cleaning up the Speed River why don’t they come through our neighbourhood every Sunday and clean up our streets, replace stolen property, and fix destroyed property. I can’t wait to see that army of volunteers.

    I don’t know what a typical university student is like on campus, but the ones living around here all drive cars, drink like fish and carry on. I think the environment is the last thing on their minds. Every weekend, the music is heard blasting from cars driving by till three in the morning. Drunks walk by yelling and screaming after the bars are out. And urinating in the middle of the street is, well, just normal.

    In the real world a few do make the rest look bad. But in this case it seems that it’s not just a few.

    So, if you don’t like this perception, what are you going to do to change it?

    I hope Lees has a plan other than just lip service. We get enough of that from the University of Guelph regarding off-campus living.

    Pat Kubicki

  3. Kevin Lees on September 8, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I’m writing as a concerned University of Guelph student. This “humour” column was, to say the least, very disappointing and hurtful. After reading it, I wondered whether it reflected the general perception that Guelph citizens have of the city’s university students.

    This columnist seems to perceive that many University of Guelph students participate in the mass consumption of alcohol, littering, and outdoor urination.

    First off, these are all harmful stereotypes. While orientation week may bring a few isolated incidents of this nature, they are just that – isolated.

    This column failed to mention that countless University of Guelph students and staff work tirelessly promoting harm-reduction practices, especially when it comes to alcohol consumption. Countless students also work to ensure that orientation week effectively integrates new students into the university and wider community. This is achieved through volunteer placement fairs, city tours, and many other activities.

    Stereotypes such as were part of this column are harmful because they undervalue student leaders and volunteers, and contribute to degrade ties between the campus community and the community of Guelph.

    Do people really think a typical student at a university with such high regard for environmental sustainability would litter with bottles and beer cans? I would challenge this statement. Perhaps the writer has forgotten some of the amazing environmental initiatives that are organized by the university students, such as the Speed River cleanup.

    This column was a failed attempt at humour. It revealed some hurtful ideas about the community’s perception of university students. I spent this past summer in Guelph, and learned quite quickly that university students make a strong contribution to the life and vitality of this community.

    Next time skip the humour. Write a column about the impact students have on this wonderful city that we’re proud to be a part of.

    Kevin Lees

  4. admin on September 8, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Thanks for the suggestion on keeping humour out of the issue, Kevin. I guess you weren’t reading back in March, ( Take a look.

    Those students are worth the hassle
    Guelph Mercury, 03/17/10

    This spring, take time to hug a student.

    I know, I know. They talk funny. They wear weird clothes. They drink too much and hog all the taxi cabs on Saturday nights.

    But if you’re holding your breath for May and the annual exodus of students from town, you might want to take a moment to consider what your house would be worth if they weren’t here.

    As we peer out from this economic downturn and think about our next great steps, let’s not forget the university that has offered us a buffer from the recessionary pain that has hit other North American towns.

    While other cities have watched their housing prices dip dramatically, Guelph’s real estate market has avoided any major downward swings despite steep job losses across its manufacturing sector. Why? In large part, that’s because universities are a stable presence in unstable times.

    The university doesn’t close up shop and move to Mexico for cheaper students. It doesn’t lock out everyone because of a bad quarter. It doesn’t need to appease investors and show that it can slash costs dramatically in the face of crashing revenues.

    Universities have steady payrolls and an almost never-ending demand for their products. And while most universities have been affected somewhat by the recession, and have trimmed budgets and a few jobs, they remain on the whole insulated in a way that companies that depend on the market can’t be.

    Just ask Rochester. Or Cleveland. Or Pittsburg. Or any other city that is banking on the future of its university after watching its old-line manufacturing base rust and corrode and drive residents away by the thousands.

    The Eastman Kodak Company used to employ more than 60,000 people in Rochester in 1982. Today? The company, once a manufacturing giant, has slashed its workforce to 14,000. But Rochester is still grateful to Kodak, only not in a way you might expect.

    By 2006, the University of Rochester quietly surpassed Kodak to become the biggest employer in the city. It owes a big part of that growth George Eastman, the inventor of rolled film and founder of Kodak. Before he shot himself in the heart in 1932, he gave the small university some $50 million.

    That endowment helped turn the university into “a superstar of economic growth,” according Patricia Malgieri, Rochester’s deputy mayor. While Eastman’s own company bled jobs because of swings in the market, the university he helped build grew steadily.

    It’s the same story in Cleveland, a once-bustling manufacturing town that now puts its hopes in its universities and research.

    In 1910, there were more people living in Cleveland than there are today. By 1950, its population had swollen to more than 914,000 residents. Today, there’s less than half that many, as people fled a city where heavy manufacturing jobs were vanishing. As many as one in 10 homes are vacant.

    For decades, the city’s location at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River on the shores of Lake Erie had made it an ideal place to build things. They worked in steel, chemicals and other goods and shipped them by rail and through the Ohio and Erie Canal.

    But today you won’t find anyone talking excitedly about manufacturing in Cleveland. Instead, they talk about Case Western Reserve University, and the research in biotechnology and fuel cells that is finally drawing new money and smart people to Cleveland.

    Universities can’t single-handedly revive an economy. But they can offer stability that companies never can. So next time you think about shaking your first at a student, try saying thanks instead.

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