The safety program SURE Walk remains an under-utilized student resource despite efforts to re-brand its image and increase visibility, according to Charles Steen, government and finance junior and director of the program.
“One of the main issues with SURE Walk is lack of usage,” Steen said. “I don’t think enough students know about our service and, as a consequence, could be putting themselves at risk.”
SURE Walk stands for Students United for Rape Elimination. The program, which is funded by Student Government, gives students an opportunity to walk to or from campus at night accompanied by two student volunteers.
“We are one of the University’s predominate rape-prevention vehicles,” Steen said. “Unfortunately, students walking home alone at night … are susceptible to dangers such as sexual assault. No student should feel unsafe at his or her own school, and SURE Walk helps to ensure that this doesn’t happen.”
In order to increase visibility across campus, the program has created a new look for the service and is working on reaching out to more students through better advertising on campus with posters and banners, according to Steen.
Steen said he has also worked on ensuring the volunteers working are consistent and available during the entire time the service is open. Most of the volunteers participate as part of a service organization.
Electrical engineering senior Sruti Nuthalapati said she used to volunteer with SURE Walk through the student organization Orange Jackets, but, when the volunteers weren’t utilized, the volunteers decided to put their time toward a different cause.
“It has a lot of place to grow, but I don’t know how it would grow because it’s more like we don’t use it, not like they’re [running] it badly,” Nuthalapati said.
The program could benefit from talking to students and asking them for their opinion of the program, Nuthalapati said.
“I guess maybe they should do a general survey about why people don’t use it,” Nuthalapati said. “I mean, personally for me, I feel like I don’t need it at 11 p.m., or maybe I’d just call a friend.”
Mechanical engineering junior Isabelle Erickson volunteers with SURE Walk and said she has walked students home approximately five times during the three shifts she has worked.
“We don’t walk very many people home because I think people are embarrassed to ask, even though that is what we are there for,” Erickson said. “I think they think people will see them as scared or weird.”
For every walk, both a male student and female student escort the student home. Steen said they do this because a trio is safer, and he wants to ease any awkward feelings the student may have about walking home with just one person.
“Students should not be ashamed to ask,” Erickson said. “We have to be there anyway, so put us to work. I know people walk home alone all the time, and they may be fine, but there is no shame in walking with buddies because you never know.”