Many of the students at Castleton State College are all too familiar with the convenience and safety that Saferide has been offering for years.But what many students have yet to discover is a new service called Safewalk. This new program strolled its way onto campus for the first time this spring semester and was the brainchild of school nurse Deb Choma, who started working on the program in November.
The basic idea of the program is if a student wishes to have someone escort them anywhere on campus, they are to call the Public Safety Department for assistance.
But, “Public safety is not always available” said Choma, saying that’s one of the main reasons she began working on this service. When public safety can’t help the student, Safewalk is then notified and a volunteer Safewalk member will escort them where they need to go.
When asked if the recent alleged assault had anything to do with the launching of Safewalk, Choma stated, “No, the plans had been in the works prior to any incidences.”
Unfortunately, Safewalk has not taken off at the pace everyone had hoped.
While many students interviewed said they had never even heard of Safewalk, at least some said they had.
“I haven’t heard of anyone using it, I just read it in the Outhouse Gazette,” stated off-campus resident Colleen Rupp. “But I think it’s a good idea.”
Other students feel that while Safewalk is a good concept, they would get more callers if they provided transportation instead of walking escorts.
“I think it’s a good idea and it has good intentions, but it would be better if there was a van or something to come and get you instead of walking. I think a lot more students would use it,” said student Carisa Chadburn. “I don’t want to sit in my car and wait for Public Safety to come and walk me back when I could just call a friend.”
Public Safety Officer Adam Massey said people call mostly from the gravel lot on South Street, but they ask if they can be picked up instead of having to walk and since Public Safety no longer picks people up, the callers usually tell them that they are fine.
“I don’t really go anywhere alone at night,” Amiee Goulette said when asked why she doesn’t use Safewalk.
Although the majority of the students who request escorts are predominantly female, this service is not limited to any gender. Massey also said that since he began working for Public Safety in mid-January, he has only had one student call because she didn’t feel safe walking alone.
Castleton Hall resident Garrit Marino said, “I wouldn’t use it because I don’t ever get scared of being raped when I walk back from Africa (gravel lot) . But I do know a lot of females probably would use it. I have a few friends that are scared of walking back from Africa at night.”
Mike Lefebvre, a Safewalk volunteer, got involved in the program through its brother, Saferide.
When asked if he enjoys doing it he responded “oh yeah I have fun,” with a big smile.
“I think it is a good service, but not sure if it will take off,” he said.
Safewalk, like Saferide, can count for student’s community service obligations and Lefebvre said that’s where most of the participants come from.
“By focusing on the diverse needs of the campus community, we’ll strive to provide services that enhance the overall safety at Castleton State College,” said Lefebvre.
Safewalk runs from 7-11 p.m. every Sunday through Wednesday.