New solutions for Campus Safety escort

Students have been using he Campus Safety escort program not only as a way to travel safely, but also for convenience.
Campus Safety Director Greg Premo and other members of Campus Safety discussed this matter at a forum, as well as possible solutions to avoid the abuse, Jan. 7. Premo emceed the event, listing off usage statistics as well as costs.
Members of the President’s Council made the final decision to shrink the perimeter Tuesday.
Premo said the annual cost of the driving escorts increases each year, this year costing the university $67,500.
Premo also said there are about 1,900 total rides per month, a dramatic difference from other universities.
University of Puget Sound’s program, for example, only gives out about 25 rides per month.
At Pacific Lutheran University, however, only about 450 students regularly use the service annually.
Considering the low number of students actually using the service combined with the service’s use for non-safety reasons, Premo and Campus Safety decided to make a change.
One of the solutions suggested, and the one the President’s Council decided on, is creating a smaller perimeter limited to the area immediately around campus.
With about 1,900 rides per month and the average escort driving time taking between 15-20 minutes, a smaller perimeter will lower that average and keep safety officers closer to campus.
The new perimeter will only go as far as 116 Street rather than the current perimeter, which ends at 112 Street.
One student at the meeting said this was a good idea, because escorts to 112 Street aren’t used to get students out of a dangerous situation, but just for things like a ride to QFC.
Premo used this statement to emphasize his next point: students are to use the escorts for emergencies, not for leisure or convenience.
“We need those drivers [safety officers] nearby, and they can’t be if they’re driving someone far away,” Premo said. “If there’s an emergency, we need those officers here.”
Instead, Premo suggested students use Zipcars for errand-running.
Another student at the event suggested having the smaller perimeter during the day and to only allow for the larger, original perimeter at night.
Premo acknowledged the idea, but said he thought it would be confusing, especially with daylight savings.
However, Seattle University has a similar program that only allows shuttle service availablity after 6 p.m., allowing the later time idea to still be an option.
In addition to a smaller perimeter, Campus Safety will not be implementing the escort service during the summer.
“We use our safety officers who are designated to patrol the campus and respond to calls to cover these requests,” Premo said. “We have such a small number of students over the summer term we can not justify the added expense to staff the position.”
The summer hiatus will begin May 26, after graduation weekend, and will resume normal operations again Aug. 15.
Premo said the safety officers need to stay close to campus in case of an emergency, and while the smaller perimeter may inconvenience a small number of students, it will provide more safety for more students campus wide.

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