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Club’s motion backed by nearly 3,000 students 

Photo courtesy of Zoom Productions

The student-run emergency response team at the University of Ottawa has called for a referendum in hopes of becoming the next official service of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).

The University of Ottawa Student Emergency Response Team (UOSERT), founded in January, is a student-run campus organization that hopes to attain service status and the additional funds and outreach opportunities that come with it.

UOSERT collected 2,820 petition signatures Oct. 6–7, nearly double the target number.

“It’s thrilling to see such an enthusiastic interest for this service,” said Imroze Shaheen, the club’s president. “Many doubted we could even hit the minimum signatures needed to trigger a referendum.”

The team consists of 50 student volunteers, with open recruitment sessions to be held on a yearly basis. Members are required to have standard first aid, CPR level C, and certified first responder training, similar to the requirements of the Canadian Coast Guard and municipal fire departments.

When an emergency situation is reported, both the student response team and Protection Services are dispatched. They provide medical support until paramedics arrive.

Beginning in January 2015, the team will be dispatched 24/7 to help student emergencies. The team can’t sustain that on a club budget, said Shaheen.

“It’s really important we become a service, since we’ll be really busy come January, with or without the student levy,” she said.

The Ottawa Paramedic Service has provided some of the equipment, while members are required to finance their uniforms and any other necessary equipment.

“It would be unfair to ask (members) for funds,” said Shaheen. “They volunteer so many hours of their time already.”

Student fees will increase if UOSERT becomes an official service. The SFUO would collect 75 cents from full-time students and 40 cents from part-time students per year to fund it.

“The levy we’re asking for is quite small in comparison to every other service on campus,” said Shaheen.

For example, in the 2014 winter semester, full-time students paid $4.26 each to the Canadian Federation of Students and $10.29 to the Agora Bookstore. Undergraduate students each paid $92.27 to the SFUO for the Fall 2014 semester.

“We’ve had a good relationship with it as a club. Our collaborations have gone very well,” said SFUO president Anne-Marie Roy.

The two organizations collaborated over 101 Week. Over the past five years, an average of 15 to 20 ambulances were called during 101 Week. This year, only three were needed.

Student response teams have been a fixture on Canadian campuses since 1982. The U of O is “an exception to the rule,” said Roy.

The referendum is scheduled for Oct. 29–30.