SafeWalk service use increased eightfold since 2012

Student use of SafeWalk services has increased by a factor of eight since 2012.

This year, a new table has been added to Campus Security's annual report recording phone calls requesting transportation from SafeWalk to different on-campus locations. The numbers of individuals using safety transportation between on-campus locations has increased significantly since 2012.

In 2012, just 131 safety transports were made around campus. The number was significantly higher in 2013 with 603, and again last year with 906. Campus Security partners with AMS SafeWalk to maintain the continuity of this service outside of SafeWalk’s normal operating hours.

Ron Gorodetsky, student services manager for the AMS, highlights the impact surrounding the string of sexual assaults on campus that occurred in September and October 2013 as the main cause of the increased demands for SafeWalk services.

“They drew a lot of media attention at the time,” he said. “This increased tension and concern about safety on campus led to a spike in usage at the AMS SafeWalk, as well as at Campus Security.”

Until April 2014, SafeWalk was, as the name implies, a walking service, with teams dispatched as needed to locations around campus. In the last year, SafeWalk acquired hybrid vehicles, and began using them alongside the walking teams.

According to Gorodetsky, the increased number of calls this year can be partially attributed to students’ desire for a free ride to locations around campus late at night.

“It’s been an uphill battle,” said Gorodetsky. “Last year people didn’t necessarily know whether they were going to be dispatched to the walking or driving team at any given time, but this year we translated the service into a fully driving team.”

SafeWalk’s capacity is currently at 70 walks per night, and on an average shift, the operators are working at around half capacity. This gives staff enough time to have a break between back to back journeys.

With recent events, demand has again spiked and SafeWalk was operating at around 60 walks per night, costing some workers overtime. That said, Gorodetsky is confident that the service can handle fluctuations in demand.

There are currently no plans to expand the service to include more vehicles and SafeWalk encourages calls from anybody around campus in need.