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Bundled in heavy jackets and scarves, a few hearty souls took part last night in the first-ever Safety Walk, an event intended to evaluate new emergency phones and other safety improvements made last year.
Members of the Harvard College Safety Committee and Harvard University Police as well as Faculty of Arts and Sciences Physical Resources personnel were asked to check light placement, emergency phones, stop signs and visibility along designated walkways.
Participants used a “Safety Walk Checklist” to record poorly lighted or isolated locations, broken bulbs and evidence of criminal activity.
Safety became an increased concern on campus last winter following a rash of indecent assaults. A few incidents occurred this fall as well.
The Safety Walkers split up into three groups, each of which followed a different trail. One trekked through the Union dorms, the Yard and the Quad; another through the River Houses; and a third through North Hall, the Law School, the biology labs and the Divinity School.
Judith H. Kidd, associate dean of the College and chair of the Safety Committee, said this is the first time the committee has organized such a walk.
“I think it’s a great thing to do, and it’s terrific to work together with the HUPD on this,” Kidd said.
According to Yemi K. Owolewa ’07, a member of the Safety Committee, the walk was designed to elicit feedback on the recent improvements, which include new blue light phones, an increased security presence on campus, bright neon blazers for security personnel, a student escort service and faster student notification of security concerns.
HUPD Sgt. Robert A. Cooper, community policing leader for the Yard, said he thought that the walk was an effective way to maintain a high level of security.
“This is basically a partnership between different groups, and perception is a very important thing,” Cooper said. “With all of us walking and talking, we get a lot of positive feedback.”
Despite the limited turnout for the walk—nine people participated—Kidd said she hoped it would become an annual event.
“I would hope that more students would join us [in the future], because it’s the students’ eye view that we really want to get,” she said.
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