By Hanna Babek and Alexandra White – 1851 Contributors
For years, campus safety escorts have been available for students who feel uncomfortable while walking on or around campus. If a student feels unsafe, they can call Campus Police and ask to be driven to their destination as long as it is near campus. Campus Police will ask the student about the situation, and then pick them up at their location.
Campus Police Captain Robert Manning says safety escorts are meant to help students who feel uncomfortable walking on campus. “The reason has to be safety. For example, if a student or member of the community got off at Riverside after hours, and said ‘Hey, I’m here on campus and I just don’t feel right walking alone. Could I get some assistance walking to Arnow or East or West?’ We would do whatever we need to do to help that student.”
Despite their presence, many students, first-years in particular, are unsure of what a Campus Safety Escort is or how to get one. First-year health sciences major Cassidy Sanchez and first-year communications major Caitlin Orsino have both heard the phrase “safety ride” and know they can call Campus Police for a ride back to campus if they feel unsafe, but they are unsure of other specifics.
Upperclassmen have a better understanding of how to get a safety escort, and how helpful they can be. Senior early education major Lindsey Kouroyen used a safety escort during a blizzard and believes they are helpful to students. “I think they are useful, but I feel like it isn’t talked about or no one really knows that they can use it.”
While some students feel more familiar with the process of these rides, younger students feel they need more information. Both Sanchez and Orsino agree the current system of educating students about this subject is mostly ineffective.
When asked if she knew how to get a ride, Sanchez said, “No. I just assume that you’d call campus police and say that you feel unsafe… and they will go and pick you up.” Sanchez also made it clear she was unaware of the phone number to call, however assumed it would be campus police and said she would have to look up the number.
Although Campus Police has emphasized the availability of escort rides, some first years remain apprehensive to use them. Orsino admits she is not entirely comfortable with calling for a ride. She fears her call might inconvenience the officers on duty, while also expressing concern that if she calls once, she might not be able to get another safety ride in the future, saying, “It seems like a one-and-done kind of thing,”
However, Manning says Campus Police would never turn a student away from a safety escort. “Any student or any member of the community who was concerned from a safety perspective, of going from point A to point B on campus or within a nexus of the campus, can call and we will help them.”
Students are not inconveniencing campus police by asking for a safety escort. Manning says the goal of campus police is to make all members of the community feel safe. “We are the only department that is here 24/7. Every day, every week, for the entire year. We are here all the time, and part of our job is to assist our community with whatever type of situation that might happen. Our officers and dispatchers are instructed to assist the community as well as protect the community, and that’s why we are here.”