Women's Transit members are trying to make campus a safer place for students after dark, but they need students’ help to do so.
With the new Walking Services program in full force this semester, Women’s Transit is looking to add at least 25 volunteers, said Kim Barrett, the program support supervisor at the Women’s Resource Center.
“They just need to be enthusiastic about being a volunteer,” she said.
Volunteers have typically worked two-hour shifts on either weekdays or weekends and have provided free transportation for thousands of women and members of the GLBTQ community who would otherwise walk alone at night. Walking Services, which has just been added following a request from ASWSU, expands Women’s Transit’s reach to all students.
Cars and insurance are provided for drivers. Vests and safety equipment are provided for walking volunteers.
All volunteers have radios to keep them in constant contact with dispatchers and can also connect them with local police in case of an emergency.
The volunteers also provide a pair of companions to walk with students at night to most areas of campus and Greek Row. Women’s Transit offers rides anywhere within Pullman city limits.
Barrett noted gender-related violence is an issue students need to be concerned about. Statistics show that one in four women will experience a sexual assault during college, she said.
But not only female students are interested in helping, she said. Roughly half the current volunteers are males.
“It’s nice to see men stepping forward for a women’s cause,” Barrett said.
There are many benefits to helping out, Barrett said. Students may use volunteer work to enhance their resumes or scholarship applications, and some classes provide extra credit to students for their volunteer efforts. The program can also provide community service hours.
Sara Price, a student assistant at Women’s Transit, started helping because she needed volunteer hours for a student organization she was involved with. Price found she enjoyed the experience and is now in her third semester with the organization.
Women’s Transit tries to make the experience as easy and fun as possible for students, Barrett said. The dispatch room includes a TV, movies, snacks and plenty of caffeine to help volunteers with the late-night shifts.
Jennifer Campbell, another student assistant at Women’s Transit, said volunteers are essential to keeping the service going. Campbell started volunteering more than a year ago when she realized how valuable the service was after using it to get home from late night labs, she said.
“Volunteers are the muscles of the operations,” she said. “We definitely couldn’t do it without the volunteers.”
Compared to other service opportunities, Campbell thinks Women’s Transit has more to offer a student who is looking to get involved. She noted volunteers work face-to-face with residents of the community and can directly see the effect of their efforts.
“You really feel good about yourself, knowing that you helped someone get home safe,” Campbell said, emphasizing the personal connections made through Women’s Transit.
Students can stop by the Women’s Resource Center in Wilson Hall, Room 8, to fill out a volunteer application. To use Women’s Transit and Walking Services, call 509-335-6830.
During the school year, Women’s Transit operates seven days a week, from 8 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Walking Services is available on weekends from 8 p.m. until midnight.