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SafeWalk encourages student safety

SafeWalk offers late-night escorts, while also making service opportunities available to students and on-campus organizations. (credit: Courtney Wittekind/News Editor ) SafeWalk offers late-night escorts, while also making service opportunities available to students and on-campus organizations. (credit: Courtney Wittekind/News Editor )

Carnegie Mellon’s SafeWalk is an independent, student-run organization that offers escorts to students, faculty, and staff walking through campus during late-night hours. The organization’s mission states that the group hopes to “minimize exposure of the Carnegie Mellon community to crime risks, to deter criminals, and to promote an enhanced feeling of personal safety.”

Any students traveling late at night can request an escort at any time from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Students can contact SafeWalk by calling the organization’s dispatcher at (412) 268-SAFE, or by approaching any member of the escort team that is not responding to a call. SafeWalk will escort students between on-campus locations or throughout Oakland, including Webster Hall, Fairfax Apartments, Cathedral Mansions, London Terrace, Shirley Apartments, Shady Oak Apartments, and Veronica Apartments.
Current SafeWalk president and junior engineering and public policy and mechanical engineering major Ben Streeter became involved in SafeWalk during his first year at Carnegie Mellon, quickly joining the executive board with the hope of continuing to increase SafeWalk’s visibility among students.

“I became involved with the executive board after only three or four shifts because I was reading through the organization’s manual and saw a few things that could have used a little improvement,” Streeter said.

Since Streeter joined the executive board almost three years ago, SafeWalk’s service has seen a definite growth in usage. “When I first joined the program, the service wasn’t used very much. I think we got around 12 calls a semester. It is steadily growing — with each semester we get more and more requests for escorts,” Streeter said. “Today we are up to a call volume of two or three calls a week. But, then again, one night last semester I received three calls in one night, so it is definitely continuing to grow.”

Ashish Babaria, a junior mathematical sciences major who is now on the SafeWalk executive board, became involved with SafeWalk after hearing about the group’s mission. “I feel as if safety is one of those things which is often overlooked by students during the late hours of the night.... I wanted to spread the word about SafeWalk, so that students realize how important their safety is.”

In addition to offering students a number to call when they are in need of an escort, SafeWalk also gives many students a unique option for providing a public service to the Carnegie Mellon community.
While SafeWalk has always accepted student volunteers and now boasts a membership of over 50 individual volunteers, the organization recently created an “Adopt-a-Day” program that allows student groups to become involved as well. Adopt-a-Day allows student organizations the opportunity to sign up to provide volunteers during SafeWalk’s 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift one day each week. Currently four student organizations have adopted days to help out with SafeWalk’s evening shifts, including three fraternities.

Stephanie Kao, a sophomore mathematical sciences major and a third SafeWalk executive board member, stressed the necessity of such an organization on campus and simultaneously the need for a strong group of volunteers.

“In a couple months, we had more calls than we had all last year. So this really prompts us to ensure that SafeWalk is a reliable option for people when they are considering their safety on campus,” Kao said.

Any student interested in volunteering with SafeWalk, or any student organization wishing to adopt a day, should visit SafeWalk’s webpage at www.studentaffairs.cmu.edu/safewalk.