Safe Walk Would Be More Effective If Route Were Expanded
In theory Safe Walk is a good idea ["Safe Walk Suffering from Lack of Use," Sept. 27]. While not chosen for street combat effectiveness, the members of Safe Walk provide safety in numbers and constant radio contact to a central dispatcher (who, in turn, can contact the Campus Police and Safe Ride). In practice, however, Safe Walk is useless for the majority of students who would benefit from this service because they do not patrol the places students are expected to go which are deemed "unsafe." These unsafe areas include Random Hall (an official MIT dormitory), the architecture studios (ask any Course IV major about the hours they keep there), and the Harvard Bridge (where several students I know have been mugged and the means of avoiding dangerous confrontations are limited).
While it is arguable for the purposes of liability that students who live across the bridge can be compared to students renting apartments and are therefore on their own, it does not seem acceptable to deny accountability for what happens to students that are assigned to go to designated Institute buildings.
Because Safe Walk patrols Institute buildings that are generally considered safe places to walk and dormitory row that is highly populated with students, yet ignores the needs of dormitory residents at Random Hall and architecture students, it does not "contribute too much to student security."
Is Safe Walk for the protection of the campus or for the protection of students? Compared to students walking along dormitory row, there are relatively few students going in these other directions to pair up with, although many would prefer the safety of a group. Students do not take advantage of this service because they can't. Its "value" is limited to the "safer" areas of campus.
The solution presented is to take Safe Ride. This entails a 20 to 30 minute wait in a publicly advertised area for a ride which alone can take up 20 minutes. Instead, many students choose the five or 10 minute walk thereby reducing the time they are exposed to criminal and natural (i.e. snow, hail, rain) elements. My vested interest is Random Hall. At our first house meeting, I informed the residents that Safe Walk was available for on-campus travel, but it was off-limits for our needs. We are expected to commute to and from Random Hall, yet it is too unsafe to allow Safe Walk to escort me or my fellow dormitory mates back from campus proper. If a person from Random Hall was to join Safe Walk, they would not be allowed to walk home while on duty.
Why is it too much to ask to allow Safe Walk to walk the three blocks from Vassar Street to Random or across the Harvard Bridge to Beacon Street? Even if the Campus Police do not have an official capacity to assist students in these areas, don't they have better access to local authorities than a student out alone? If the Institute cannot allow Safe Walk to escort students to places that we can be assigned to go, what right does it have to expect us to even go to these places on our own, especially without assistance when the means of reasonable protection are available.
We would like to use Safe Walk. Members of Safe Walk would like to help us. Current MIT policy does not allow Safe Walk to be effective for the students who need it the most.
Erika K. Schutte '95
President of Random Hall