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Archive for Wednesday, January 16, 2013

40 years ago: Military fraternity offers safe escorts for KU women

January 16, 2013

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Jan. 16, 1973:

Members of the "Pershing Rifles," a tri-service military fraternity at Kansas University, began this week to offer services to KU women under the name of "Operation Escort." The 25 members of the group would be available seven nights a week from 6 p.m. to midnight to provide a companion with whom a female student could walk or ride across campus in safety. Lawrence senior and Pershing Rifle member David O'Rourke had gotten the idea for the service after reading a newspaper article in November about campus assaults against women. "I was on the phone about 30 minutes later," O'Rourke said, and he had rapidly gained the support of William Balfour, vice chancellor for student affairs; Shirley Gilham, director of the Office of Affirmative Action for Women; and Emily Taylor, dean of women. Similar services had been initiated at Kansas State University and Penn State, but O'Rourke believed that the KU project could work even better if enough women were informed about the opportunity. Signs with the project's phone number had been posted at 150 places on campus, mostly near telephones. "The Pershing Rifles are not providing a police function but security for girls on campus," said Bob Ellison, captain of the KU security force. "Girls will know they can get a ride whether they have a well-based fear or are simply being cautious. It's a good service."

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