Of the $25,000 given to SafeWalk, $5,000 was meant to serve as a stopgap so the group could still function during October. But Student Government does not expect to decide on permanent changes until early next semester, Student Body Treasurer Brittany Best said.
Best said she expects the student-run campus safety initiative to begin receiving funding again from Student Congress, which cut the organization’s funding in September after it built up more than $20,000 in debt.
“The SSSC will allocate money for SafeWalk to operate for this year, as it has always done,” Best said. “This will give us time to continue our discussions on how SafeWalk should operate.”
SSSC member David Goldberg said the group hasn’t yet submitted a proposal and funding will depend on what the proposal entails.
“I do not support continuing to write SafeWalk a blank check,” Goldberg said. “SafeWalk needs to prove its worth just like any other organization or office on campus.”
Goldberg said the group will need to ask itself how it plans to decrease its cost per walk and why it should receive funding priority over other safety organizations.
Ryan Darge, SafeWalk’s program and finance director, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The student-run organization pays its walkers $8 an hour to escort students back from study or working spots around campus at night.
Best said it is the responsibility of the SSSC to fund UNC safety initiatives.
She said that SafeWalk would not be paid for with student fees and that she is pushing for other sources of financing.
Freshman Katie Starr recently used SafeWalk at midnight on a school night after studying in Davis Library. She said she appreciated that SafeWalk was available to students and it would be missed if the program were discontinued.
“It shows that our campus cares about our safety, and it was nice knowing that I was able to walk back with happy people.” Starr said, “It was really, really fun actually. They were the nicest people.”
Goldberg said SafeWalk lacks a plan for financial success but is built on good intentions.
“The SSSC, Student Congress and SafeWalk need to make some difficult decisions in the near future in order to ensure we are proper stewards of student funds,” he said.
“I think that the committee may be able to use the money for programs that make a much more direct and material impact on student safety at a lower overall cost.” Goldberg said.
“I invite SafeWalk leaders to prove me wrong, though.”