Safety at AU: Why AU needs a safety escort service

Students should feel safe getting to, from and around their campus

Safety at AU: Why AU needs a safety escort service

It is that time of year where you find yourself leaving the library at 2AM. You finished your ever mounting pile of homework and studying and just look forward to sleep. But one thing that lies between you getting from the library to your bed, whether you are on or off campus, is the trip back home. Do you feel safe walking back to your place?

Although students can always call Public Safety for an escort to and from University owned property, what happens if a student who lives off campus needs help? While students may ask for a cab voucher from Public Safety, where the cab fare is billed to the student’s account for them to pay later, the cost of a taxi ride should not be imposed on a student who feels unsafe. The student themselves may have already been in a dangerous situation which they were trying to remove themselves from. The cost of a cab ride should not be an additional burden that they have to face.

At a school where we strive to offer services to students in need, we can do a better job of providing a service that gives students safe passage to or from wherever they go. Public Safety does offer a service in which if you are stranded in a 10 mile radius of campus, you can call them for a ride and a taxi will be dispatched and the cost billed to your student account. Yet AU should be doing more to offer free and safe passage for students wherever they need to go, not have a system that only applies to those getting to and from campus owned property.

Many other schools offer a safety escort system in which if a student or even a staff member needs to get from one place to another and they feel uncomfortable, they can call for a free safety escort ride. At Indiana University, the university offers free safe rides run by student employees for students and even IU employees to anywhere within the city limits. Implementing a similar system here at AU would be beneficial for the community as a whole.

Such a program could be called AU SafePass, a free safety escort system in which an AU student or staff member could call a number or even hail an escort ride from an app from any on campus or off campus location within a certain radius of AU at anytime, day or night.

Vehicles could be owned and operated by the University, such as a fleet of vans, and the drivers could be students who go through similar training that is mandatory for various student staff employees in the Office of Campus Life, such as becoming adept in the various campus resources related to mental health, student well being, and safety and Title IX training. The purpose of this service would be simple: give safe passage to members of the AU community. Furthermore, the program would also be made to allow not just students to utilize it, but staff and faculty as well. By keeping in mind that some members of the AU community have on or off campus jobs at late night hours, such a service would allow them to get to and from their jobs without the worry of their own personal safety.

No student, professor or other member of the AU community should ever feel unsafe. In a University budget year, serious consideration should be given for the adoption and implementation of a program such as AU SafePass. Members of the AU community want to be able to get to and from their homes safe and sound, and a free safety escort system at AU would help accomplish that goal.

Sameer Chintamani is a senior in the School of International Service and a columnist for the Eagle.

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