Baylor Police Department, we appreciate everything you do for us. Your presence on and around campus is truly immeasurable in terms of what it does to help keep the Baylor community safe and secure. Your efforts to connect with the community are duly noted, and they really do go a long way when it comes to fostering relationships with Baylor students.
It’s important to know that BUPD plays a large part in providing safety services such as Baylor’s Campus Guardian program. Campus Guardian allows for any Baylor student to use their phone as a “personal safety device.” The app includes emergency contact buttons that put you directly in contact with the BUPD communications center, and it allows you to link your “safety profile” where law enforcement can access some of your most vital information with just the touch of a button.
While the intentions behind the Campus Guardian program are good, there is one thing that would make the majority of the student body far more comfortable on campus: a program where students can request an escort home due to the uneasiness of being alone at night.
Once upon a time, Baylor students had access to a similar service run by BUPD that gave them the opportunity to be escorted to their car or home if they felt uncomfortable walking on campus at night. After seven years of operation, the program was terminated near the beginning of the fall 2019 semester. At the time, BUPD cited that the demand for its service was “overwhelming” its officers.
The need for a legitimate escort service should not need to be explained. As college students, whether we deserve it or not, we can have a target on our backs when it comes to crimes like robbery, assault or stalking. Instead of only having the opportunity to use reactionary measures like the Campus Guardian app or to call 911, students should be able to take proactive measures to ensure their safety. Chances are, if a student feels unsafe, there’s a reason for it. That shouldn’t be discounted for the sake of convenience or because some students may attempt to abuse the program.
While an escort service for students should not come completely at the expense of BUPD officers, it was — and is — very clearly a necessary service. With that in mind, it seems that even if BUPD could not spearhead the service, some kind of solution should be, and still could be, in place.
One good example of a possible solution can be found at the University of Oklahoma with its OU Safewalk and OU SafeRide systems. Both of these systems are run by OU, with the escorts being paid by the school. When a student feels a need for an escort, they can contact the Safewalk service when their destination is within walking distance or the SafeRide service when their destination is outside of walking distance but still within Norman city limits. With limited hours of operation, the SafeRide system partners up with a local vendor to aid in the program for the university’s students.
At the end of the day, the fact that students feel the need to be escorted home at night is an issue — just like it is an issue that Baylor doesn’t offer any sort of system to escort students home. Sure, the institution of such a service can lead to the service being abused or overused, as we’ve seen in the past. Taking note of other systems in place and adapting to what Baylor needs can show the extra effort students are looking for. But that’s a small price to pay to ensure the safety of each and every Baylor Bear.