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Campus Reviews New Safety Measures

By Eva Moy
News Editor

Changes in A Safe Ride, the emergency telephone system, and the possibility of student patrols in Institute buildings were among the issues discussed at a meeting yesterday among several top administrators and representatives of student organizations.

The meeting was intended as a review of the Institute's current safety initiatives and as a forum for the presentation of new ideas.

At the end of last year, two new A Safe Ride vans were added to the existing routes, raising the total number of vans to four, according to Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin. The original and the new van "operate 15 minutes behind each other" on each of the existing routes, Glavin said.

The two new vans are 100 percent handicapped accessible, each equipped with a fully automated wheelchair lift, Glavin said. The new vans meet specifications set by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act for the expansion of route-based shuttle systems, she added.

The Graduate Student Council is currently working with Campus Police to try to develop a set time schedule, "something similar to a bus schedule," Glavin said. She added that this should be done "fairly soon."

Director of Special Services Stephen D. Immerman said graduate students from the Center for Transportation Studies have been traveling on the Safe Ride routes to get a better understanding of what could be a reasonable schedule. He said he will meet with the students this Friday.

After that, the GSC may look into other issues, including the addition of more stops, which could be implemented if the community accepts the longer routes, Glavin said.

Glavin said she has "heard nothing negative" about the expansion so far. She said the true measure of its success will not be made "probably until IAP is over" or a few months later. "We can't really assess the impact of the new vans until more students come back to campus," she said. "I expect that as people see the system working better, they will ride it more, and by the end of the semester waiting times may be back where they were at the beginning of the year," she added.

Undergraduate Association Safety Committee chair Colin M. Page '95 agreed. "Many people use the shuttle as Warm Ride rather than Safe Ride, and that's going to increase if waits are shorter," he said.

Glavin would not comment on the cost of the Safe Ride expansion except to say that the system was essentially doubled in terms of vans and drivers.

Immerman estimated that the two vans cost $50,000. He also said the total operating cost of the new system would come to about $235,000 a year, based on last year's $135,000 cost.

Immerman did not know how the costs would increase in future years "since we don't have experience about how quickly the vehicles will outlive their usefulness."

The purchase and operational costs are considered "as a general operating expense of the Institute," Immerman said. These are covered by tuition, earnings on investments, or gifts, he added. "If you assume that there is pressure to keep tuition low ... you're going to have to decide what's not going to be done somewhere else."

Phones, lights also addressed

Glavin said the Institute was working on the installation of eight new emergency telephones along Memorial Drive. She said more phones will be added in future years "as budgetary restrictions allow."

MIT is also planning to install lights along the Memorial Drive sidewalk. Glavin said MIT is currently negotiating with the Massachusetts District Commission over the use of electrical conduit left from sidewalk lights it maintained in the past.

Glavin said the pairing of MIT and Cambridge police officers on patrols on the campus perimeter has been very successful since its inception in early December. She said the multiple daily patrols were focused on five zones: Memorial Drive, Vassar Street, Albany Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and Kendall Square. Glavin added that "there will probably be some increase" in the number of Campus Police officers, but said she did not yet know the exact number.

Nicholas Thismond G, a GSC representative, suggested that the burden on Campus Police could be eased slightly by the creation of student patrols inside buildings. Glavin concurred, saying that she strongly encourages such patrols and could arrange for training and use of police radios for committed volunteers.

"People besides the Campus Police need to stand up and say that people need to think about changing their behavior. People hear it from us all the time and become numb to it," Glavin said.

Glavin and Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities James R. Tewhey raised the idea of adding a safety program to Residence/Orientation Week. Tewhey said the two would discuss the idea with Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Travis R. Merritt, who coordinates R/O activities.

Attempted armed robbery

An MIT employee was the victim of an attempted armed robbery on Dec. 17, 1992. The victim was walking between Buildings 9 and 13 at approximately 8 p.m., according to a Campus Police bulletin. The victim was not harmed, and the attacker escaped toward Massachusetts Avenue.

The attacker approached the victim and said, "Give me your wallet," according to the bulletin. As the employee continued walking away, the subject slashed his sleeve with "a sharp object which the victim could not identify," the bulletin reported. The victim described the assailant as a 17 to 18-year-old black male with medium build and wearing dark clothing.

No other incidents have been reported since Dec. 17, Glavin said. "It's been thankfully very quiet," she added.