Campus News

After campus crime incidents, SAFEwalk sees dramatic increase in use

The number of UW-Madison community members requesting to be walked home at night has dramatically increased following multiple assaults and robberies on campus since the beginning of October.

According to Transportation Services Communications Specialist Carolyn Wolff, the number of students and staff requesting SAFEwalk — a program that employs groups of students to safely escort others home from various locations around campus free-of-charge — has nearly tripled since the beginning of the semester.

Wolff said the number of walk requests peaks on nights “immediately following on-campus incidents.”

Recently, a UW-Madison student was attacked near Ingraham Hall while walking home from College Library at around 1 a.m. The attacker, a registered sex offender who has since been arrested, allegedly cut the victim with a knife as he attempted to force her into the trunk of his car.

To accommodate the spike in requests, SAFEwalkers have increased their number of weekly shifts. Walkers who usually work two escort shifts per week are now working four to five shifts.

Wolff said SAFEwalk is in the process of hiring more staff, and that they have not had issues responding to the increased number of walk requests.

Marc Lovicott, director of communications for the UW-Madison Police Department, said these escorted walks are important, especially “in a time in which we hope people will be cognizant of their safety and their surroundings.”

SAFEwalk employees train with university police and are able to assist in a variety of situations, Wolff said. Each escort team carries a two-way radio that is able to act as a mobile emergency phone between UWPD and SAFEwalk dispatchers.

Those who wish to request a SAFEwalk can call or text 608-262-5000. Requests can also be scheduled in advance.

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