The purpose of Campus Safety is to ensure students remain safe by providing services that can establish a feeling of comfort and security to them. One of these services is escorting students from different points on campus, or even to their off campus residences, be it by car or by foot.
Amanda Guthorn, director of Campus Safety, said that these escorts are primarily for the safety of students. “We will give escorts to people from campus to off campus to their apartment or residence within a certain area. That’s anytime … I mean with finals week labs are open until around two in the morning so we would do escorts,” Guthorn said. During certain hours there is a shuttle that can fit up to seven students, which is available for transportation. “The idea of the shuttle was to support the academic mission of the college so we want to support students getting back and forth during class times and also for students that live on campus that don’t have access to a vehicle so that they can go food shopping or pick up necessities, those types of things,” Guthorn said.
The hours of the shuttle are Monday through Thursday from 7:30 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., Saturday from
noon until 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 6:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. While these hours are helpful to many students, there are some whose requests for rides fall outside of these limited windows of time. These students can still end up in situations where they do not feel comfortable walking alone, and have run into some issues regarding attempts to find an escort. Karissa Dunn, sophomore, said she has requested multiple rides from Campus Safety this academic year and while many of her requests have been met, there are a number of issues that she has also faced.
Dunn said she lives in an Owl’s Nest, and arrives in the Winchester lot around 1:00 a.m. many nights out of the week, where she phones Campus Safety for a ride.
“I’ve had numerous occasions where they’ve told me the shuttle is not running and hang up the phone so I’m left at one in the morning without a ride,” Dunn said.
On these occasions, Dunn said she parks her car in the Owl’s Nest lot and moves it in the morning before receiving a parking ticket, rather than walking down the bike path alone. She has only ever received one ticket that she is currently attempting to appeal. “It’s their fault I got the ticket in the first place because they wouldn’t provide me with a ride,” Dunn said. The appeals office denied Dunn’s initial request, but she is continuing to fight the ticket. Sarah Lennon, sophomore, has also run into issues regarding ride requests from Campus Safety.
Lennon said she was at the Hannaford Plaza on West Street when it suddenly became really dark and began to downpour. “I didn’t want to walk home in it, I was going to have to walk down Pearl Street or Island Street which are a bit sketchy and I didn’t really feel good about it, so I called Campus Safety and asked if there was anyway somebody could pick me up and they just said no, sorry. I was like, what if something happened when I was walking home?” Lennon said. Emily Conrad, junior, is another student who has faced problems when phoning Campus Safety for a ride. “A few weeks ago, I had broken my toe and was on campus. I live off campus, by Ramuntos and had called campus safety around 2 a.m. and told them what had happened. I was not intoxicated, I just simply could not walk home on my toe. I had asked them for a ride from Butler to my house after explaining I did not feel I could walk and their response to me was, ‘Yeah, unfortunately we are not able to do that’ and hung up with me. I was very disappointed, considering we are always told Campus Safety is there for us and is always just a phone call away,” Conrad said.
Guthorn addressed these types of complaints and said that the issue mainly comes down to staffing. “I’ve told my staff that’s a priority, safety is a priority for our department, to get people home,” Guthorn said. “We do about ten thousand rides a year between the two shuttles and we’d love to see students use them during the hours more often. In terms of after hours, it’s about safety from campus because we’re supporting the academic mission to their home.”
Guthorn said that students in areas such as the Winchester lot would take priority over students in safer areas. “If we have multiple calls … and there’s somebody at the Winchester lot, that person is going to take higher priority because they’re out there, they’re not in an area that’s protected as opposed to an occupied building so the officers will prioritize based on that,” Guthorn said.
Additionally, Dunn said that she requested a ride from the Winchester lot after returning from her Praxis exam for her Education major in Concord one evening, and it was outside the operating hours of the shuttle. “I had called Campus Safety for a ride, and they had once again told me the shuttle wasn’t running and hung up the phone, and I had to walk back to my nest alone,” Dunn said. Guthorn said that these types of issues have to come to her in order to be fixed.
“Without knowing the specifics, it’s really hard for me to address,” Guthorn said. “When I do get that information, I act upon it right away. I’ve made it very clear to my staff that those requests need to be honored.” Lennon said that she thinks that students calling for rides should always be met. “People don’t like to interact with Campus Safety for no reason, and I feel like people who call for rides usually really need them,” Lennon said. “I think that I shouldn’t need to tell Campus Safety that I don’t feel safe and that I need an escort. I think that if I call and say I need a ride then that’s good enough. I wouldn’t be calling if I felt safe and didn’t need an escort,” Dunn said.
“Since we were freshmen, we have been told we can call campus safety for any reason. I think what can be done to fix this is for campus safety to stay true to their word and when a student of Keene State calls them for help they do what they can to help,” Conrad said. Guthorn said that students going out at night should think about where it is they are going before doing so. “When you go out, you make choices about where you’re going and when you’re going and who you’re going with. If you know you’re going to be out late, you need to take that into consideration,” Guthorn said.
Devon Roberts Can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org