Safety concerns lead to 90-percent increase in demand for security escorts

Simon Husted

Demand for campus security escorts has risen above 90 percent in the last year.

The muggings and other crimes during fall semester have caused students “to be a little more concerned and aware of their surroundings,” said Brian Hellwig, security manager for Residence Services.

Last semester, Residence Services security filed 322 escort requests, according to an office report. In Fall 2008, 169 requests were filed.

Students using the service aren’t surprised by the nearly doubled increase.

Katelyn Neff, freshman early childhood education major, said she is a weekly caller for escorts.

“There’s like back alleys I need to walk through, and I usually carry my laptop with me,” Neff said. “(I call escorts) for safety reasons.”

Last semester, Neff worked at the campus post office every Saturday night until 2 a.m. Each week after work, she said she called an escort to accompany her from the student center to Lake Hall.

Neff said there were only a few times she was embarrassed calling for an escort.

“Sometimes, when I called them on Saturday nights, there would be people walking back from parties with other friends,” Neff said.

One or two security personnel receive an escort request every night, Hellwig said.

Maria Lee, senior applied communications major, said instead of calling for an escort, she has simply approached security personnel working and asked them to walk her back to her dorm.

“It’s a little thing I ask them to do if they don’t need to do their rounds,” Lee said.

Even the students who refuse to call said there is still value in the service escorts provide.

“There are people out there who want to do damage and harm other people,” said John Das, an integrated life science graduate student. Das added the on-campus crimes from last semester proved students and the university need to do more to promote campus safety.

Nevertheless, Das said he has never asked for an escort because it would contradict his persona.

“I’m a tough guy,” Das said.

Not all students are so reluctant to ask for help when needing to reach a destination alone at night.

In contrast, Neff said she feels less hesitant to call an escort this semester, noting she works at the same post office but now on Wednesday nights.

“No one sees me,” Neff said. “No one is really out in the cold weather.”

Contact safety reporter Simon Husted at [email protected].