USF’s SAFE Team, a service provided by Student Government (SG) that shuttles students across campus, is now available during the day, thanks to a new expansion to the program.
This announcement was highlighted during Safety Week, a week sponsored by SG dedicated to raising awareness about the various safety programs available for students around campus. This endevour is a great way to help students learn how to prevent violence on campus.
This is the first year USF has had Safety Week, but former Student Body President Andy Rodriguez is hoping it will become an annual event.
Student safety is an issue that plagues universities across the nation. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 33 men on college campuses face sexual assault. Those alarming numbers have led to the creation of Title IX victim centers on campuses and seminars on sexual assault at orientations across the nation.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that has yet to accept the realities of sexual assault. Many still make a habit of blaming or completely disbelieving the victim, and this has led to less than 5 percent of completed or attempted rapes against college women being reported to law enforcement.
Luckily, groups like N.I.T.E. (Network, Improve, Transform, Empower), a social justice group dedicated to helping those who have fallen victim to violence, are working to not only raise awareness of the threats facing college students but also to increase safety for all those attending college.
However, sexual assault is just one of the many threats college students face. The increase in school shootings over the years has recently sparked discussion of allowing students with concealed weapons permits to bring weapons on campus.
Thankfully, Florida lawmakers realized that armed students create more of a problem than they solve and refused to pass the legislation. According to the 2015 Sunshine State Survey by Nielsen, 73 percent of Floridians believe allowing students with permits to carry on campus would be moving the state in the wrong direction, whereas only 17 percent thought it would be a good idea.
It seems that students are constantly receiving texts from USF’s University Police (UP) department warning them of possible threats on campus that have recently included a flasher, a mugger and a potentially armed individual.
SG is right in trying to raise awareness about the many services at USF. During orientation, students learn about the emergency blue lights and are given planners with UP’s phone number. However, not everyone is aware of SAFE Team or the text and email updates available from UP.
“The safety resources exist for a reason and it’s to keep the students on our campus safe,” Rodriguez said. “One of the most important things on campus is making sure that students are safe, and I know that it’s a priority of the university as well as the family members and the students themselves. I think if students know about the resources, they’re more likely to use them and in turn, not only feel safer, but be safer.”
So far, SG has been advertising the amenities via themed Facebook posts and is calling the combination of SAFE Team, UP and emergency blue lights the “Safety Squad.”
While there is still much to be done in order to ensure student safety, SG is taking steps toward a safer campus. Promoting the amenities available to students and ensuring those services are always accessible is a great way to help reduce violence on campus and provide peace of mind for students.
Breanne Williams is a junior majoring in mass communications.