AU Safewalk helps students get home safely by walking with others
Facebook group offers strength in numbers to students
A Facebook group called AU Safewalk, created by AU senior Ray Scheinman, is offering members of the campus community the option to walk with other students to and from class and work.
The group was created in an effort to provide safety and strength in numbers for those who may feel threatened by the current environment created by the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Scheinman said.
“Newly elect president trump [sic] is making the world less safe for Muslims, POC, LGBTQ+, women, the differently abled, the undocumented, and Jews,” the group description reads. “AU Safewalk is a community for students to link up with each other to get safe walks home from campus or around DC.”
Students in the group, which currently has 132 members, are instructed to post when they need someone to walk with and where they are going. They can then link up with other students who are going in the same direction. Students can also post when they have time to walk with someone and connect with those who need someone to walk with.
Ray Scheinman said that the idea of a Safewalk group came from a series of incidents in the fall of 2012 involving an individual who fondled students on Massachusetts Avenue. In response to the incidents, students formed a system where two people would wait outside the library every hour to walk students home late at night.
“Donald Trump has come out and bragged about assaulting women,” Scheinman said in an email. “He has threatened immigrants and people of color. His vitriol against Muslims, his anti-gay rhetoric and choice of a pro-conversion VP have made the world a more dangerous place, and we can all feel it… And it seems like the community is looking for ways to reach out. AU Safewalk is my contribution.”
So far the group has been successful, although it is difficult to determine how many students are utilizing the group’s services since setting up walks is done through private messaging, Scheinman said.
“People have offered safe walks to safe rides at all hours of the day and night,” she said. “College students tend to have erratic schedules so I think it's a productive way to meet.”
Scheinman added that it is her hope to develop a “Safewalk Team” during finals to help students get home late at night, similar to the system established in 2012.
“This community is ready to help each other, and I'm happy to provide a space,” Scheinman said.