Volunteers escort students through campus late at night

When darkness falls, students concerned about safety are JayWalking.

JayWalk, a service provided by Kansas University’s Student Senate, began in October 2003 and has volunteers available to escort people walking alone at night on campus.

Lindsay Poe ran the program last year and said it had grown from two to three calls weekly to two to three calls nightly. She said response to the program had been positive.

“People are saying even if I don’t use it, it’s good to know it’s there if I need it,” she said.

The service is based on similar programs at other Big 12 universities, Poe said. Members of the Student Senate Campus Safety Board began working on the idea after a student survey revealed most students didn’t feel safe on campus after dark.

Cayla Witty, a JayWalk volunteer, said her most rewarding experience was providing help to someone in a dangerous situation on campus.

Witty said a female student had been studying at Anschutz Library. The student was walking to her car, parked down the hill from the library, when she saw someone following her. She ran back to the library and called JayWalk. Witty and another volunteer walked the student to the car.

“She was in physical danger and we helped her,” Witty said. “That made a real impact on me.”

Short walks across campus can be the most dangerous, Witty said. People feel comfortable on routes they take often and tend to be less alert than if they were walking somewhere less familiar.

Most people who call ask to be escorted to residence or scholarship halls or to a car parked on campus, Poe said. Volunteers also walk people to bus stops or to where a SafeRide car will pick them up and wait until transportation arrives. These services help make the trip from campus to home safer, Poe said.

To learn more about the JayWalk program, call 864-3222 or send e-mail to cfjretro@ku.edu

For the safety of volunteers and users of the service, all walkers come in pairs of one male and one female. Volunteers generally work two-hour shifts and four to six volunteers work each shift. The program operates from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.

Anyone interested in becoming a JayWalk volunteer can contact Witty at cjretro@ku.edu.