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Safe Walk to Offer On-Campus Escorts

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@ByName:By A. Arif Husain

@ByTitle:Staff Reporter

@Body:Starting Feb.<\q>13, students will have the option of enlisting security escorts to accompany them after dark. Safe Walk is intended to provide students with a safe means of getting to areas on campus not covered by Saferide.

Safe Walk was founded by Kenneth M. Porter 96 and Susan L. Ipri G in reaction to the recent upsurge in crimes on campus, Porter said.

Safe Walk will be offered three days per week Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday over a trial period of the next semester, Ipri said. The service will run from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., and students desiring to use the Safe Walk service will be able to contact a dispatcher at the information desk in the Student Center. Students may also call x2-1300 for an escort.

The trial period will serve to see what the response is, Ipri said. Funding is also a limiting factor, and the group needs to work the bugs out of the system, she said.

The project is focusing on publicity and recruitment, with a booth set up in Lobby 10 yesterday. It was wonderful, Ipri said. Even if they took the flyer [they showed interest]. Just the publicity is what we need at this point and thats whats going to allow the service to work.

Many MIT students are wary of walking by themselves at late hours, said Jonathan D. Baker G, co-chair of the Graduate Student Council Housing and Community Affairs Committee. Others mentioned that the program would be ideal for students who would normally be reluctant to ask the Campus Police or a friend to walk them home.

Safe Walk escorts will accompany students anywhere on campus, but not to off-campus fraternities or independent living groups, Porter said. The emphasis is on safety in numbers and the knowledge that the escorts have a direct radio link to Campus Police, Ipri said.

For off-campus destinations, Safe Walk members will escort students to the nearest Safe Ride stop, Porter added. In addition, Safe Walk zones will be restricted to areas deemed acceptable by the Campus Police. Escorts to Central Square, for example, will not be provided, since the Campus Police has recommended that students avoid this area after dark, and providing service would put the escorts at risk.

Since Safe Walk is run by students, both Baker and Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin stressed that the escort position would not be one of law enforcement, but rather one of observation and deterrence. Students are still advised to use caution when traveling at night, Glavin said.

The Safe Walk project originated from a committee sponsored by the Undergraduate Association and the Graduate Student Council. The two governments tried to put this together as a unified student event, Ipri said. Results of a survey taken in September reflected an increasing concern with crime among students.

With close to 20 members, Safe Walk has now become an independent student activity under the faculty advisement of Assistant Dean of Residence and Campus Activities Neal H. Dorow. It is still, however, looking for new recruits.

Were looking for gung-ho students with the right attitude, Porter said, who can perform their duties in a nonconfrontational manner.

Students who join will be paid $7 per hour, and may work in dispatch, or as escorts. Escorts will be given 3-hour shifts while dispatchers will be required to work on a nightly basis.