Next fall, the familiar Women’s Transit program may feature a walking escort service available to students of all genders in addition to the ride service.
Since the demise of SafeWalk last year, ASWSU executives have been working to find a way to resuscitate a similar program on campus.
Josh Hart, former ASWSU director of student life, said the service was cancelled last year due to the high cost of background checks necessary for student volunteers. In the new consolidated program, Women’s Transit would absorb the $10-per-person fee for the checks.
Hart said he hopes more students utilize the Women’s Transit walking service. SafeWalk received very few calls during its operation.
ASWSU Director of Student Life Kyle Erdman said though the SafeWalk brand will be retired, the program run by Women’s Transit will look nearly the same, and volunteers will train for both walking and driving services at the same time.
Erdman said he thinks the merger will encourage more students to volunteer and also decrease response time.
“A lot of people complain about the wait for Women’s Transit, and this can help,” he said.
While the service’s cars sometimes take more than half an hour to respond to a call, students on foot may be able to reach the caller in as little as five minutes.
ASWSU Senate Pro Tempore Derrick Skaug said during his semester as a volunteer driver for Women’s Transit, he would get a call every night asking for a ride from Regents Hall to the Student Recreation Center, a distance of about half a mile.
Skaug said a walking service would be much more effective for short distances like this, so students would not have to wait longer for a ride than it would take to walk to their destination.
Volunteer groups walking around campus and College Hill change the atmosphere on weekend nights, he said.
“Walkers add a sense of security to Greek Row,” Skaug said. “It’s nice to have sober people looking out for everyone.”
While Skaug said it is difficult to anticipate how much the program will be used by students, he hopes they will take advantage of it, and that it will attract more volunteers to the Women’s Resource Center.
ASWSU District 1 Sen. Brenna Stroup also spent a semester volunteering for Women’s Transit. She said her main concern with the proposed program is getting enough volunteers. The current service has been running short on consistent drivers, she said.
“If they are able to make it work, it would be awesome,” she said. “It would be nice to have some more resources.”
Though the service will likely not be available until next fall, Erdman said he hopes to use this academic year to make the program the best it can be.
“We definitely want to take our time with this,” he said. “It has a different name, but it’s the same service.”