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The Daily Tar Heel

SafeWalk appropriated enough money for October

SafeWalk is hoping to avoid resorting to an additional student fee to pay for the program, said Ryan Darge, the organization’s program and finance manager.

“If all else fails, we are looking into a potential student fee of maybe one or two (dollars), but that would be the last resort,” Darge said.

Josh Aristy, finance committee chairman for UNC Student Government, said the $5,000 should last about a month, and they are still considering many different options.

“Really anything’s on the table,” he said.

Brittany Best, the student body treasurer, said she does not forsee any fee increases.

SafeWalk offers students the option to request trained walkers to escort them home on weeknights between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. for free. Walkers are paid $8 per hour.

Darge said the organization is seeking money from elsewhere before looking at student fees.

“Right now, we’re also looking at other sources of funding in addition to the ones we’re used to getting,” Darge said. “So if one ends up failing for us, we’ll have another option.”

The Student Activities Fund Office stopped funding SafeWalk Sept. 16, after the organization built up $20,000 in debt over several semesters of operating at a deficit.

Then Monday, the finance committee passed a bill giving SafeWalk a $25,000 grant, to make up for the debt and allow it to continue operating.

Aristy said he expects SafeWalk to find a sustainable model before the money runs out.

He said student government is working to make sure that happens.

“We’re cognizant of the importance SafeWalk has on campus,” he said.

In the future, Aristy said he hopes student government will not let groups accrue so much debt.

“I hope that there will be a more stringent follow-up,” he said.

Best said SafeWalk’s funding issues were more a procedural problem — the student safety and security committee didn’t have quorum when it only allocated $2,000 to SafeWalk in May.

“I don’t think a lack of oversight on SafeWalk was the issue here,” Best said.

One of the issues, Aristy said, was that student government’s representatives change so frequently that problems can repeat themselves from year to year.

“There is a high turnover in certain posts,” Aristy said.

“People are like, ‘Oh, how did we deal with this before?’” he said. “And we don’t know because the institutional knowledge isn’t there.”

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