Safety is top of mind as nearly 30,000 university students make their way back to Maritime campuses.

A new session called Safe at SMU is being offered at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax for all first-year students to create a safe and respectful learning environment on campus. 

“They are peer-to-peer, so students are teaching students about safety issues,” said Dr. Esther Enns, senior advisor for teaching at Saint Mary’s. “These address issues related to physical safety but also emotional, social and cultural safety.”

Online safety training courses are being offered, as well as student leader training.

Varsity athletes at Saint Mary’s are going through mandatory training dealing with drugs, alcohol, sexual consent and social media.

Halifax police will patrol residential areas around the university to crack down on noise, property damage and public intoxication.

“We tend to get it under control very quickly,” said Cst. Shawn Currie. “If we come out very quickly in the first couple of weeks, we find that it lessens the year, the impact into neighbourhood instead of lasting over a whole year or several months.”

South end resident Sandra Felderhof says students sometimes wake her up as they return from downtown, but she feels the police’s zero-tolerance policy has been effective.

“Oh, I think that's working, definitely working,’ she said. “I understand that it’s one call and they get a fine so I think that's really helped.”

Patrols start Sunday evening and will run through September.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jacqueline Foster.