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Escort Service Starts Slowly

By Andrea M. Larocca, Crimson Staff Writer

Although the neon yellow-green vests of safety patrols have become a familiar sight on campus at night, students and safety escorts say most undergraduates have yet to make the week-old Harvard University Campus Escort Program (HUCEP) a part of their daily routine.

Over 100 students have used the new safety program—which operates in the River, the Yard and the Quad—but both students and escorts said that so far, most undergraduates have declined to be walked home.

Christopher P. Schledier ’05, who worked the 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. shift in the Quad last Friday night, said that his escort team walked home about six people.

“Things have been slow in terms of escort numbers. Lots of people are walking in groups more,” Schledier said.

“The escort service is a great idea, but I don’t think I would use it,” said Matthew J. Corriel ’05.

During the program’s first week, Feb. 20 to Feb. 27, HUCEP provided a total of 107 students with walking escorts. The majority—65 students—were escorted between 10:30 p.m. and 2 a.m., while 42 students used the service between 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

The program, which is run by the College and the Harvard University Police Department, was founded last month to replace the defunct SafetyWalk program and to provide student escorts for undergraduates walking alone in the wake of a rash of assaults and gropings near campus this year.

Despite these incidents, HUCEP escort Constantin C. Crachilov ’04 said that many students have refused his help during his first hours on the job.

“The first night I worked was a little awkward because we had no calls,” said Crachilov, who patrols the Quad. “During the night, we escorted only two people by offering our services. A range of people that we asked didn’t need our services.”

The student escorts can either be flagged down or can be requested by calling the HUCEP hotline at 4-8237 or 38H-UCEP.

Alison E. Cohen ’07 said she has used the escort program three times this past week and will continue to do so in the future.

“I will definitely use the service frequently throughout the week when I am coming back alone from a late-night study session or activity,” she said.

Cohen said she has had trouble remembering the HUCEP hotline number and has instead called HUPD directly to ask for an escort. HUPD then radioed nearby escorts to answer her request.

Assistant Dean of the College Paul J. McLoughlin said the College is working on stepping up publicity efforts to advertise the service and how to use it.

“We’ve sent e-mails to House lists. And key chains with the HUCEP phone number were made and handed out at the freshman scavenger hunt this weekend and will also be handed out at the dining hall stations this week,” McLoughlin said.

HUCEP escorts will also be handing out fliers advertising the hotline number to people who use the service, according to Crachilov.

McLoughlin said the College is considering adjusting HUCEP’s hours of operation to coincide with early sunsets during the winter months. The program currently operates from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Of the nine indecent assaults in the Harvard Square area since October, three occurred before 7 p.m.

“We’re considering using a sliding schedule throughout the academic year and moving the service towards the dusk hours in the winter but then moving it back when the days get longer and it’s not dark so early,” McLoughlin said.

Even if the hours of operation are shifted, students will still have to wait for escorts—a delay that some say is a deterrent from using the program.

“I think it’s a great program, but I won’t use it because I don’t have time to wait around for someone to walk me home,” said Allison C. Smith ’06.

Since its founding last month, HUCEP has hired and trained undergraduate and graduate students to be escorts.

Escorts are paid $10.25 an hour and were required to attend a two-hour training session led by HUPD officers.

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