The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday February 26th

Counter-viewpoint on SafeWalk: Program unnecessary

The new SafeWalk program has good intentions. But it is not a solution to an illusory threat.

The program provides the student with two trusted peers, one male and one female, to walk him or her to an on-campus location during late-night hours when the student might feel unsafe.

The walkers are trained by the Department of Public Safety and paid by the hour.

The total cost of the program will reach more than $20,000. More than $11,000 of the costs are funded by the student safety and security committee. 

So is this program worth the costs? Is the campus a legitimately unsafe place to walk around at night?

From 2006 to 2008, two separate reports from the Department of Public Safety showed no homicides or forcible rapes. In that same time span, only eight cases of campus robbery were reported.

Of the 25 sexual offenses that were reported during those three years, 16 came from inside residence halls. Granted, many sexual offenses are not reported.

But the fact is, UNC is a very safe community.

Further, these SafeWalk peers will not be permitted to walk students to off-campus locations or to walk students who are intoxicated.

 If a program like this is to exist, why not use it in cases when student safety could be a legitimate concern?

Because this program is not about student safety, but instead about making sure middle-class students feel comfortable.

In the insulated bubble that is UNC, students don’t have to deal with the crime that affects most communities.

But despite this, paranoia still plagues the bourgeois culture that worry about the “criminals” and the “lowlifes” that might be haunting the streets.

So we make programs like SafeWalk.

It’s not that student safety isn’t a legitimate concern. Students should take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Bringing a partner with you at night certainly can’t hurt.

But don’t make others pay for a program because some students have irrational fears about campus safety.

Besides, crime needs to be solved from its source. The $20,000 could be given to local police or toward social welfare programs.

Although the majority of this money will end up going back to students, it will only go back to those select few who work the SafeWalk shifts.

In the world outside of UNC, SafeWalk doesn’t exist. But you can always arm the alarm and lock doors in your gated community. The boogie man is out there.

Christian Yoder is senior journalism major from Charlotte. Contact Christian at cyoder@email.unc.edu
 

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