Walking with the Campus ServicesEithne Dodd looks at how the UCD Walk Safe Service tries to keep students safe.[br]The Walk Safe Service has been available for use to UCD staff and students for the last few years and aims to make the university campus a safer place for staff and students.The service is available for students and staff roughly during periods of darkness; during winter and autumn from 4pm to 7am every day of the week, and in spring and summer terms from 9.30pm to 6am.“It has been around for quite a long time” said UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Roisin O’Mara of the service. “I know Trinity College have recently rolled out a similar programme nearly every university in Ireland has this kind of programme” she said.“After contacting us requesting the Walk Safe Service the requester is asked for several pieces of information: name, their location on campus, a contact telephone number & their destination on campus” according to a representative from UCD Estate Service.“Once the request is made members of campus security are tasked by the Campus Services Operations Room (CSOR) to meet the staff member/student at the agreed location and walk them to their destination. Once security staff meet the person they will contact CSOR via radio to inform them they have met the person. Once the person has been walked to their destination they will radio CSOR [Campus Services Control Room] to inform them they have completed the service” continued the representative from UCD Estate Services.
"Once the person has been walked to their destination they will radio CSOR to inform them they have completed the service."O’Mara explained the service available for UCD staff and students as something to give them peace of mind. “Staff and students can call the Walk Safe service . . . two of the campus service guys, or women, will come to where you are and walk you to wherever you need to go.So be it to your car, to the front gate, to the other side of campus just so that you’re not walking alone” she said.“If people feel unsafe or uncomfortable walking in the dark then absolutely it’s necessary. I’m not suggesting campus is or is not a safe place but if people don’t feel comfortable walking by themselves it’s [Walk Safe Service] there for them” she added.In Semester One, 60 people used the service, a large majority of which were female according to the UCD Estate Services representative. The most popular times to use the service are in the evenings between 6pm and midnight, when campus buildings and facilities are closing.On the UCD Estate Service website if warns again “no shows” stating that it will “negatively impact the ability we have to provide this service in a prompt and efficient manner”. No “no shows” have been recorded so far this year.UCD and UCD Students’ Union have both undergone criticism for their handling of an alleged rape that occurred on UCD Campus last November. Students criticised the delay in receiving news of the assault as it could have been potentially dangerous for people on the campus to be ignorant of.
“If people feel unsafe or uncomfortable walking in the dark then absolutely it’s necessary.”At the time, UCDSU told the University Observer that they had “requested that the college issue an all student email about supports on campus for students feeling unsafe”.The alleged sexual assault occurred in the early hours of Friday morning, the 25th of November, but the information was not revealed to the student body until the following Tuesday, the 29th of November, when the registrar sent an email stating that if students felt “uneasy” walking out of campus to contact UCD Estate Services and ask for the Walk Safe Service.The email from the registrar suggests that the Walk Safe Service is sufficient for making UCD staff and students feel safe on campus. This a stance that O’Mara also takes: "I think having the option of people come to walk you some place, knowing that if you need that service it is there, I think that is sufficient to going towards making people feel safe on campus” she said.O’Mara went on to say that while she might feel “a bit funny” calling the Walk Safe Services but it was worth it to feel safe. “I would feel a bit stupid and saying to myself ‘oh you’re probably fine don’t worry about it’ but at the same time you kind of have to weigh up the benefits” she said. “Yeah you’re probably fine but will you be feeling nervous or uneasy will you be double checking or triple checking over your shoulder when you could call somebody – and it is there job to do it – to bring you where you need to go.”However O’Mara also agreed that “I do recognise that it could be an issue and perhaps it is something Walk Safe Service could look at; but there is only so much we can do.” If anyone would like more information or wish to avail of the Walk Safe Service they can contact 01 716 7000. Information is also available online at www.ucdestates.ie/services/walk-safe/