SURE Walk relaunches with app to follow

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Members of SURE Walk stand in the PCL, where one of their booths is based. SURE Walk is a volunteer organization that promotes safety by walking students home at night.

Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

SURE Walk, a volunteer-based organization that helps students get from campus to their homes at night, relaunched last week and has an app on the way.

The delayed launch of Students United for Rape Elimination — abreviated SURE Walk — this semester was the result of efforts to improve the organization, according to Krishan Sachdev, SURE Walk director and health and society junior. Sachdev said SURE Walk, which has eight volunteers every Monday through Thursday, had double its usual numbers on the first night of the launch, and he wants the organization to serve even more people.

“I would say that more than 50 percent of our campus doesn’t know about it, but, at the same time, it’s such a prevalent issue, and it’s a solution to [the issue of sexual assault on campus], so there’s obviously some sort of miscommunication,” Sachdev said.

Sachdev said he thinks students may not utilize SURE Walk because they don’t notice the station in front of the PCL, because of a social stigma of having to be walked home by volunteers and because  of the effort it takes to call for the service — an effort that Sachdev said many students do not feel is worth the trouble.

SURE Walk representatives are working to solve this problem by creating a mobile app for students, Taral Patel, chief of staff for Student
Government, said.

“We also did a survey last year where an overwhelming majority of students indicated they prefer using an app to request a SURE Walk than making a call to do so,” Patel said in an email. “By having this app, we can track the student’s coordinates, gather data on the areas students most want to be walked to and provide it to campus partners like UTPD so they can utilize that information and potentially add more patrols or lighting in those areas.”

Sachdev said the idea of the app is to be like Uber but for students who need someone to help them get home safely from campus.

“For some reason, before Uber, we didn’t really utilize taxi cab service nearly as much,” Sachdev said. “We connect better with apps than we do with [other types of] communication, so we want to utilize that and make our organization more productive.”

SURE Walk is working with UT’s Mobile App Developers on an iOS app for iPhones, according to organization president Tomas Rodriguez. Currently, the app’s main features include a way to request a SURE Walk, a GPS map, important contact information and safety tips,
Rodriquez said.

“Everything is almost done, we just need to make sure that it’s up to date … so that it works with all the different platforms and new devices,” Rodriguez said. “It will probably be finished by next semester.”

Although the app is still in the works and is pending approval by the University, SURE Walk is still sending out volunteers to help students get from campus to their homes until the app is ready, Sachdev said.

“Students putting effort into their studies by staying on campus at night — it shouldn’t hurt them,” Sachdev said. “They should have their safety ensured throughout our campus and throughout West Campus, and we’re hoping to improve that safety experience.”