Students have mixed reactions to SAFE Team wait times

SAFE Team Director Kaelyn Steele said wait times have been reduced to about 10 to 15 minutes on an average night. ORACLE PHOTO

Receiving 150 to 200 calls on a given night, the SAFE Team is widely used throughout the USF campus. However, the service may be lacking in some areas, as a common complaint students have is that the wait times are too long.

The SAFE Team is a service on campus that provides transportation services, either on a golf cart or as a walking team of two staff members, to students who feel unsafe walking around campus between the hours of 6:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Some students had no complaints about the service, however, in recent years, some have expressed being “dissatisfied” and will “never be using it again.”

Thalia Diaz, a sophomore majoring in pre-architecture, uses the SAFE Team on occasion, and said that she has had more good experiences than bad, but is sometimes unsatisfied with how quickly it arrives.

“There was a time I called and they said it would be 20 to 30 minutes, and I waited the time and I called again, but they said they were on a break and they said it would be another 30 minutes, so I walked back home myself,” Diaz said.

Diaz said she attempted to contact the SAFE Team around 12:30 a.m. on a weekday.

“I didn’t feel unsafe walking because I called my mom,” Diaz said. “But I would have felt safer with the SAFE Team.”

Former SAFE Team employee Carly Bosse said that every team has to take a break throughout the night, so if a student calls during peak hours and one of the teams is on their mandatory break, the wait times will be increased.

Another student who has been disappointed with SAFE Team due to its timeliness is Stephanie Kaminski, a sophomore in the pre-nursing program.

Kaminski said she had multiple issues on different nights with the SAFE Team that made her eventually stop using the service. Her first encounter with it she said she called around 11 p.m. on a weekday.

“I walked to The Village and I was in Horizon and I wanted to go to [Juniper-Poplar],” Kaminski said. “They said it would be 30 to 45 minutes, and it got to be 11:45 p.m. and no one was there. I called again and they said they had two [golf carts] running but are now down to one and they were on their break, so I would have to wait another 30 to 45 minutes.”

To add to the poor experience she said she had, Kaminski was disappointed by the SAFE Team a second time.

“I saw them while sitting in a lobby pull up and turn around, they didn’t even stop,” she said. “I called a third time asking if that was for me and the man on the phone said the team said they stopped and waited five minutes, but I watched them not even stop, so they came back about 10 minutes later.”

Kaminski said this experience with it has made her completely stop using the SAFE Team because she said she ended up getting home at 1:15 a.m. after calling at 11 p.m.

Bosse recalls picking up some upset students when she was employed with the team, but she finds that the wait times are reasonable.

“For the wait times, I think they are pretty fair because golf carts don’t get across campus as fast as cars do,” Bosse said. “When picking up a student who is upset about the long wait I would say ‘sorry about the wait’ and then go.”

Kaelyn Steele, the director of SAFE Team, said she is aware of the issues students are having with the service and is doing what she can to combat the problems.

“Wait times have improved drastically because I have been hiring this semester,” Steele said. “About 10 to 15 minutes is the wait time on average at any time of the night.”

Steele said she is currently looking to expand her team from 40 members to 45.

Bosse explained how when she worked there from 2014 to 2017 there were only six carts running, but now, Steele said there are eight to 10 carts running depending on the night.

Another frequently expressed issue is calls dropping, but Steele said this is a phone system problem she is working on fixing.

“The way this service works is students call and they get put into a queue,” Steele said. “I am trying to get a new phone system that is more efficient for students and dispatchers so the students know they are in a queue.”

Currently the phones will just ring until the dispatcher is able to pick up the line, but Steele assures that students are not being ignored, but rather they are just experiencing a lot of calls.

“If it’s been ringing for a minute or so stay on the line, they are just in a queue and don’t know that,” Steele said.

However, not all students feel that this service is lacking or disappointing.

Danielle Mendoza, a junior majoring in health sciences, said she has been pleased with the services she’s received from it.

Likewise, Grace Bendis, a sophomore marketing student, said she has used the service about five times and has waited 20 minutes at the longest.

Also, Manuel Ponce, a sophomore majoring in management, said he appreciates the off-campus aspect of the service.

“They drove me from the bridge area from Publix to the edge of campus next to Bellarmine Hall,” he said. “I thought that was really nice since I wasn’t really on campus for my destination.”

Students are encouraged to use the feedback form on the SAFE Team’s Student Government website page. All comments are welcome, and Steele said some changes she has made have come from reading the feedback forms as they are sent straight to her email.

“Just like any organization or workforce we are not perfect, but we are always striving to give students the best experience they can,” Steele said. “Don’t let one bad experience ruin the service.”