Gaining a foothold with the Foot Patrol

Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Social sciences student Idman Hassan spotted Walosik (aka Waldo) during the Foot Patrol's “Where’s Waldo Walking” event in November. Photo courtesy of Idman Hassan.

By Brandon Gillet

Alexander Walosik wasted no time finding his feet on campus. In his first session, the first-year social sciences student logged 170 hours volunteering with SFUO’s safe walk service, the Foot Patrol.

Walosik recalls learning about the Foot Patrol at an orientation session, when a student’s mother asked how the University ensures the safety of students on and near the campus.

“I just thought it sounded like a great program,” said Walosik, a self-described “people person.” He has continued to volunteer this session, now serving also as a dispatcher.

Foot Patrol teams, usually made up of one male and one female, walk with students and other members of the uOttawa community who may not feel comfortable travelling on their own after dark. They also accompany clients on several bus routes serving the campus, within set boundaries.

For volunteers like Walosik, putting on the Foot Patrol’s bright yellow jacket is a way to meet people and get some exercise, while also giving back to the community. The free service operates weekdays, from 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. until 11 p.m. or 2 a.m., depending on the time of year. Bookings can be made by phone or email, or at Foot Patrol’s office in the University Centre, which is open during the day.

Walosik says the service provides eight to 10 walks a day on average, and that clients don’t always use the service for safety reasons alone: “Maybe you just want someone to walk with, you want to feel comfortable — and that’s what we’re here for.”

Walosik hopes to move into a staff position with the Foot Patrol next year and to become active in the SFUO itself the following year. Don’t be surprised if you see “Vote for Walosik” posters on campus in future.

Working with the Foot Patrol has given Walosik countless opportunities to integrate into the uOttawa community and meet interesting new friends.

“Coming from Val D’Or, a small town of 43,000 up north in Quebec, I’ll just say it’s not very diverse,” he said. “But you come here and it’s, like, wow! Here we are in a diverse community, where people are encouraged to be themselves, reach for their dreams, and just go for it — just be you.”

 

Find out more about the Foot Patrol.

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