The Georgetown University Police Department and Georgetown University Student Association launched a pilot program for on-campus student safety escorts and enhanced SafeRides service in order to decrease wait times April 18.
The Student Safety Escort Pilot Program is set to provide on-campus, point-to-point student safety escorts seven nights a week from 8 p.m. to midnight using trained student guards.
The expanded SafeRides service will include an additional vehicle Monday and Sunday nights, the two busiest nights, according to GUPD Chief Gruber. The program plans to expand in the fall with additional vehicles five days a week, from Sunday to Thursday night.
The plans for the pilot program began due to feedback from the Georgetown University Student Association and the Student Safety Advisory Board, which meets every two weeks with GUPD Chief Officer Jay Gruber.
Gruber said student’s safety concerns were incorporated when developing the pilot program.
“I spent a lot of time with my Student Safety Advisory Board and the GUSA leadership, and I worked with them to try and understand the needs of the students, what their concerns were about SafeRides and their concerns about students walking across campus, and I really took to heart what they were talking about,” Gruber said.
GUPD launched two pilot programs this semester to increase SafeRides service and train student guards to escort other students, according to Gruber.
“I made a decision to make two different programs which were both pilots this semester. One was to increase the availability of SafeRides, so this semester we did a pilot to have our student guards drive SafeRides vans on Sunday and Monday, our two busiest nights. And two weeks later we piloted a student guard escort program based on the feedback I had gotten,” Gruber said.
The student guard leadership selected certain students for both programs. These students received extra training and vetting as escorts and drivers.
Gruber said the inclusion of students in the programs will benefit the community.
“The students are trained and vetted, and so I saw this as a great ready pool of really good students that could expand in different ways and do so much more. I like the fact that students are serving students.
Nina Young (SFS ’19), GUSA Safety and Sexual Assault Policy Team chair, said the escort service could normalize a safer method of getting home late at night.
“I feel like the student pilot program is a great initiative because it provides an alternative to have people walking back home from parties with people they don’t know that well,” Young said. “If we make that normalized, there would be a lot less reason for you to leave a party with someone you don’t know.”
Young said one issue that influenced the creation of the program was the increasingly long wait times for SafeRides.
“One of the problems that we were having was that safe ride waits were much too long. Students would call a SafeRide and end up walking home alone,” Young said.
Gruber said the student guard SafeRides pilot program has been successful in its first weeks.
“So far, the student guard SafeRides has been a big success, especially in decreasing wait time for students. The student guard escort system is only a week old, so we don’t have a feel yet how that is going,” Gruber said.
The project will continue in the fall semester with the potential for further expansion and increased safety for students, according to Gruber.
Gruber urged all students to maximize their use of both programs.
“I think the student guard escort program and student guard SafeRides program are great ways to serve our students,” Gruber said. “I want students to take advantage of all of these programs. Students should not have to walk alone on or off campus, so I really encourage students to take advantage of these programs.”