Concordia Students’ Nightline hopes to adapt and expand

The reinstatement of the late-night helpline is a necessity, students say

Graphic Semira Kosciuk

The Concordia Students' Nightline re-opened on Sept. 8. While student engagement remains relatively low, there is a chance you’ve seen their stickers posted around both campuses from bathroom stalls to poster boards. 

According to the Nightline’s president, Brooks Reid-Constantin, a second-year linguistics student, the Nightline’s role is to be “completely confidential and completely anonymous. We’re there to validate how you’re feeling without giving you advice or problem-solving unless you specifically ask,” she said.

Reid-Constantin explained why she believes Nightline is such an important service to students. “Right now, there’s a very large lack of spaces where you can just be heard,” she said. 

An issue the Nightline’s volunteers are trained on is the handling of sexual violence, Reid-Constantine said. A 2016 study found that 36.9 per cent of students in Quebec universities had witnessed or experienced sexual violence on campus. Additionally, a 2022 report by the SPVM revealed that since 2017, sexual assaults had increased 12 per cent in Montreal. Reid-Constantin emphasized how seriously the Nightline takes this problem.

The Concordia Students' Nightline is run by volunteers. The team is comprised of  Concordia student volunteers and alumni.

To volunteer, community members must sign up during one of their two recruitment periods of the year then pass both a phone and Zoom interview. Subsequent to the interview stage, volunteers go through a 35-hour in-person training where they are taught how to handle sensitive topics such as self-harm, suicide, sexual assault and mental health calls.
According to Anthony Diprimio, a third-year mechanical engineering student, the existence of the Nightline is important because “it adds an extra sense of security to students on campus.” Unfortunately, he believes that most students aren’t aware of the Nightline’s existence. 

Kim Maurer agreed with this sentiment.

Maurer, a third-year English literature student has been turned away from Concordia’s counselling services on several occasions. “It definitely made me lose faith in Concordia's services and hesitant to reach out to them again,” she said. Despite being unaware of the Nightline’s presence on campus, she thought the idea was interesting. “I would consider calling if I felt like I needed to get something off my chest but had no one to go to,” she said.

Concordia Students’ Nightline is only open between Wednesday to Saturday from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. According to Reid-Constantin, the working hours for the organization are due to association regulations. “They are standard Nightline hours. There is a Nightline association that we’re not directly affiliated with but we do follow a lot of what they’ve set up.”

Diprimio recommended adjusting and adapting to the nightlife, giving the example that Halloween fell on a Monday this year, making it a night important for having access to a Nightline, yet it didn’t fall within their operating schedule.

Being involved in the nightlife scene as a founder of MyCity, an organization which both plans and promotes parties, Diprimio explained that “more and more events are going past 3 a.m., so maybe if they shifted the shift to 4 a.m. it would be interesting.” 

The Nightline puts an emphasis on active listening, no matter what it is you’re calling for. “We get a wide range of callers, not just necessarily students, we get calls from all over Montreal,” said Reid-Constantin.  

As for making students aware of the Nightline, Reid-Constantin said it’s something they’re working on. “It can be difficult. There’s so much information at Concordia all the time in your face [...] You can’t actually grasp it all.”

In a previous version of this article, The Link misspelled Brooks Reid-Constantin's name. The Link regrets this error. 

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 6, published November 14, 2023.