Escort service falls short

Escort service falls short

by Tabi Hoshmand, Contributor

At approximately 11:40 p.m., my friend and I decided to head back to our dorms. Since we live in Chapultepec, I decided to call the San Diego State Police Department and utilize the escort service the school raved about first few days of the semester.

We were told to wait by the transit center and that an escort would meet us shortly. Usually, the wait time is approximated at 10-15 minutes. This wasn’t the case this instance.

A lengthy 25 minutes later, we began feeling uneasy and decided to walk to the dorms on our own. Luckily, we found a group of girls headed in the same direction.

In situations like these, slip ups are not okay — especially a slip up of 25 minutes. What if this one time the escorts showed up late was one time too many? It’s understandable for response times to vary, but that’s not the biggest worry. The uncertainty of response times is unreliable and unsafe. Consistency should be the top priority of this service because misinforming the students can be more harmful than preventive. A service put in place to ensure safety shouldn’t be paired with time ambiguity and inefficiency.

Administrative Specialist for the university police department, Shawn Brown, explained it is currently working to improve its response times by training community service officers on bicycle.

“Response times vary depending on the number of escorts that are pending,” Brown said. “Once they are bicycle trained, some of the delay time will be shortened because once they are done walking their escort they can bicycle to the next pending escort.”

What does their training mean for SDSU students? Should students stop relying on the escort service in the meantime, or are we expected to sit back and wait? Although training these escorts will be beneficial in the future, I’m more concerned about what’s going on right now.

Dangerous situations aren’t necessarily put on hold just because escorts are being trained.

Upon these delays, it’s suggested for students to call back and inform the dispatcher. Other recommendations include waiting with a large group of friends, staying in well-lit areas and remaining aware. How is it realistic to constantly be surrounded by a large group? SDSU is in an urbanized community and a well-lit area isn’t immune to strangers.

“We are always trying to improve our program to best serve SDSU,” Brown said. “Should there be cause for any suspicious activity or if any student feels they are not safe, they should report the circumstance immediately to the SDSU Police by dialing 9-1-1.”

The reason for having an escort system in the first place is to avoid situations when students would need to call 9-1-1. Unfortunately, according to university police, if escorts are pending, it’s the best option when faced with such circumstances.

Business management freshman Andrea Chavez was waiting by University Towers when she requested an escort to her car.

“They told me that they would be with me in 40 minutes,” she said, “I decided to just walk to my car without them, by the time I got there they still hadn’t gotten to me. They’re no help.”

The escort service is supposed to be of convenience for the students; with a wait time of 40 minutes, that is hardly the case. It’s unrealistic and unacceptable to ask students to wait that long without feeling unsafe and uncomfortable.

“I called at 9 p.m. to be escorted to my car from the Mediterranean Garden,” biology sophomore Marissa Peralta said. “After 30 minutes of waiting I decided to walk instead.”

It goes without saying not every instance a student has used the service has been terrible and unreliable. But what does this say about its consistency?

“Two people showed up within the 10-15 minute window they said they would be there,” nursing freshman Sheryl Warfield said. “They were respectful and friendly. I’ll be using it for all my late night classes.”

All these incidents go to show the amount of inconsistency associated with the escort service. This service is intended to avoid emergencies but how can we, as students, feel rest-assured and safe if we are being misinformed? Even if there are time delays, students deserve to be given exact time frames, which will then result in their conscious decision to wait around or not.

We are encouraged to utilize a service that is not ready to be used. I am compelled to say it is better to find our own way back to wherever we’re trying to go. This service is appreciated, but its unpredictability is not.