Safewalk will always be there for you

By Stefanie Achkewich

Aimee Wright is a woman with a mission. As Safewalk Coordinator for the University of Calgary she has made it her mandate to raise awareness of campus safety by promoting the use of the program. Last year there was a significant drop in the number of people who used safewalk during the winter months and this is of great concern to Wright and her fellow Safewalk volunteers.

"[As the semester progresses] people forget we’re here," said Mike Willmott, a volunteer for Safewalk. "There’s a lot of promotion during the first week of school but later in the semester people get more involved in their lives."

A lack of time is one reason why many students don’t call Safewalk later in the semester.

"People are more comfortable on campus by this time," said Safewalker Jillian Schwartz. "They’ve been here for a while now and they’re really busy. They don’t want to wait for us."

Campus safety is everyone’s business and the Safewalk volunteers want students to understand the importance and value of the service available to them. Over the past three years the number of reported incidents on campus has decreased significantly. Even so, campus pedestrians are urged to take responsibility for their personal safety.

"Safewalk contributes to the awareness of personal security and safety on campus," stated Wright.

A plethora of avenues are being employed to raise awareness on campus, not the least of which is the visibility of the Safewalk teams around campus.

"We try to ensure that our teams are visible during shifts," says Wright. "We walk to McMahon Stadium, MacKimmie Library, past Max’s and the Oval. We’re also doing class presentations, handing out flyers and relying on informal public relations by telling friends and family about Safewalk. We’ve even painted the rock."

Accessibility is one of the key factors that makes Safewalk work. There are three ways people can get in touch with Safewalk: by dialing 220-5333 which will connect with Campus Security, by using the classroom phones which have a direct line or by approaching teams that are on shift.

"Emergency phones aren’t strictly for emergencies," emphasized Wright. "They’re a way of communicating with Safewalk and Campus Security."
"We provide assistance to Campus Security," said Willmott. "They do safewalks 24 hours a day. We help out during peak times."

Safewalk volunteers work seven days a week, Mon.-Sat. between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. and Sun., 7 p.m.-11 p.m.

"A lot of people think they’re bothering us [when they call for a walk] but that’s what we’re here for," said Wright. "If people don’t call we can’t do our job. We’ll walk anywhere no matter how cold it gets and we’ll wait with you for your bus or train."

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