Now You Can File the Equivalent of a Flight Plan Before You Cross College Campus

Readers tdkkinayzs
— A new app lets college students alert the authorities when they leave one building and head to another, so the cops can instantly come looking for them if they don’t get to their destination. Which makes sense if you are going to college in ISIS-held neighborhoods of Syria.

Otherwise it is yet another way to convince us that everyone under 21 is in constant, life-threatening danger. Especially on campus! As South Coast Today reports (boldface mine):

DARTMOUTH — Audry Kivlin is a freshman dorm resident assistant at UMass Dartmouth. Her biggest job, she said, is “to keep students safe” so she is excited to hear how technology can help do that this fall.

The university is preparing to roll out the Rave Guardian campus safety app designed to check on the status of a student if, for example, he or she walks from the library to the dorm at night.

“It’s a notification system that allows for better tracking,” said Col. Emil Fioravanti, the campus director of public safety. “If you’re not where you want to be at the expected time, campus police will show up.”

The way it works you log in and tell the app where you are and where you are going. It starts a timer and you have to notify it when you reach your destination. The app automatically provides the student’s profile and location to public safety so staff there can track you in case something happens along the way.

I’m sure that no students will  ever forget that they activated the app by the time they get to their destinations, right? Certainly, no cops will be rushing to the scene of non-crimes to find students studying or flirting or eating a hamburger, will they?

Oh wait — they will. This item sounds worse than unnecessary. It sounds like a recipe for false alarms. – L

Sorry, officer, I forgot I was supposed to live in terror between the library and my dorm.

Sorry, officer! 

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65 Responses to Now You Can File the Equivalent of a Flight Plan Before You Cross College Campus

  1. Emily September 26, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    It’s a dumb idea, for sure, but I’m just glad it’s not mandatory. When I was in university, if everyone had had a smartphone back then, I probably would have just not used the app, and lived my life as though it didn’t exist. Although, I’d hate to think how it might become yet another part of the “rape culture.” Suppose some girl didn’t use the app, for whatever reason, got sexually assaulted, and then was told, “Well, you should have worn more clothes, not walked alone at night, not been drinking, AND volunteered to be GPS-tracked by campus security all night?” Anyway, Lenore, I agree with everything you said–there’ll probably be a lot of false alarms in the beginning, from people turning on the app, and then forgetting to turn it off.

  2. Mark September 26, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    The people who really need this (the ones too drunk to successfully stumble back to their dorms) are also too drunk to actually use it.

  3. kate September 26, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    Good thing my daughter is not at Dartmouth. She just let slip that when things are crazy in the dorms, she slips out to the beach late night just to get some peace and quiet. While I am a little concerned, I just told her to keep her pay attention to her surroundings and avoid any “suspicious” characters. Her answer, “I am in a neighborhood, I can always contact someone that lives here.” I want her to be comfortable to be out and to have the judgement to decide what is “safe” Of course I still worry, but I want her to enjoy her new found Independence.

  4. Kimberly Herbert September 26, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    Even before I got to the end of your post I thought – “Boy they are going to be responding to a lot of false calls.”

    When I went to University, the administration was constantly warning people that they needed to be careful after all Henry Lee Lucas had been caught nearby and he had killed hundreds of people. (This was at the height of his false confessions).

    I understood the real message – Don’t be stupid just because you are in a small town/the country. Most of the students were from Houston, and the next biggest group was from Dallas. People did stupid things like leave their keys in the car and were surprised their cars were stolen. Their defense it is a small town things like this shouldn’t happen here.

    Let think where would a car thief go to steal a car. Well there is a small, expensive university down the road. Most everyone lives on campus and walks to their classes. Many have new graduation from HS present cars, and they might use it 1 or 2 times a week. So once you steal the car, it might be a week before the owner notices. No that wouldn’t be a good place to steal a car.

    It isn’t just the under 21 set. I’m well past that, and got bawled out by my extended family a couple weeks ago. We were supposed to meet up for dinner. That morning I was geocaching and picnicking in Herman Park. They were going shopping. They got done earlier than expected and tried to call me.

    Well my battery had run down and I turned off the phone, till I could walk back to my car. I got a lecture about how dangerous that was because of all the homeless. I showed them the crime statistics for Herman Park and the Galleria. Now if you were going to rob someone. Would you go to a park or a high end shopping center?

  5. Puzzled September 26, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    I don’t think it’s a recipe for false alarms. I think it’s a recipe for police going places invited (using the app consents to their entering the premises of your destination, I’m sure) and finding victimless crime materials around.

  6. Elliot September 26, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    I can definitely see how campus safety might end up with a lot of false alarms. On the other hand, having attended school at one University where we received frequent reports about students getting robbed, and now attending school in a city with a very high crime rate (and thus regular emails about robberies and shootings on campus or near the school), I can also really appreciate the creation of such an app. At my previous school I was often in school at night and would have to walk to the parking garage in the dark (where there had previously been students held up at gunpoint), and at my current school I often have evening classes and have to trek cross-campus to my car afterwards. Not all colleges and universities are in good neighborhoods or are well populated (or even well-lit) at night, and not all students (or staff or faculty) who might want to use such an app are drunk or absent-minded kids who would forget they activated the app in the first place.

  7. Colin Summers September 26, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

    There is an app out there for everything, so there is a web application for this called KiteString. It is a lot less panic-based and I understand it. The person who created was clever. Before hitting your notification list, it tries your phone instead. If I lived alone I could see using it on occasion for things like “Heading out for a mountain bike ride, expect to be back in 3hrs, here is my route.”

  8. K2 September 26, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    More surveillance of Americans equals more surveillance. It does not always equate with safety. If something happens to someone, maybe campus police will come checking after they finish the last false alarm. They know some students, but not all of them, so they may have to ask around a bit. By then the crime will have been committed and the police will do what they usually do – deal with the aftermath. If it is something on a larger scale, perhaps one of the rare shooting events, the first thing most students won’t do is fumble with their phone for an App. I think it just takes up a lot of time on the part of the students and police. Sad part is that I could picture something like that being mandatory in the future with the general lay of the land.

  9. Max September 26, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    This resembles me a dystopian world by Pelevin where the consent age grew to 46

  10. no rest for the weary September 27, 2014 at 1:10 am #

    Holy crow. Thinking of sending our kid off to a sports-themed boarding school next year at age 14 and I would NEVER advise him to use this app. Live your life, kid, be aware of your surroundings, shout for help if you need it (but God help anyone who tangles with my boy, he’s 150 lbs of pure muscle who’s had judo training!).

    I’ve been talking to some friends of mine and the response to the plan is, “Oh, I’m not ready to let go of my kid.” That’s what the other parent of my son is saying as well.

    My son is keen to go, though, and I wonder: how has helicopter parenting affected boarding school? Is enrolment down?

    I’m hearing stories of kids from around here who get lovely Division-one sports scholarships, last a week or so on campus, then come crying home to Mommy because they’re freaked out to be on their own. WTH?

    I’m assuming this app has a direct feed to the parents’ phones; they’re the ones who want to know every move their kids make at college these days, right?

    Freaky, freaky, freaky.

  11. hineata September 27, 2014 at 1:30 am #

    @no rest for the weary – while it’s OT, I remember ringing home in tears for much of the first year after leaving home, I was so homesick LOL! And my parents certainly weren’t helicopter types.

    48 and still here, so didn’t kill me :-). However I wonder why those parents of the scholarship kids let them move back? I told my own kids that they need to give something at least six months….no coming home before then :-).

  12. no rest for the weary September 27, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    I guess kids who go to boarding school don’t have to get homesick, because home just comes along with them anyway. Barf.

  13. Ben September 27, 2014 at 5:40 am #

    When you make a new product (including apps) you need to know your audience. This lady should have known that the people who need the app are typically too drunk to do so and she should also know that most students are unlikely to even install it.

    This app won’t be reaching its goal…

  14. Lexis @ September 27, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    How far is it between buildings?! Sounds like a great way to track all the miscreants, I mean teenagers. 😉

  15. SKL September 27, 2014 at 7:01 am #

    It does seem likely to produce a lot of false alarms if it is used often.

    Having gone to grad school on a campus in the middle of a high-crime area, there were times when I was walking alone at night for about a mile to my off-campus apartment, and I might have felt comforted by the idea that someone would know if I had been deterred from reaching my destination. (Though most likely the campus cops would say, tough luck if you live off campus.) Of course that was around 1990 when we didn’t have cell phones, laptops, email, online libraries, etc., which was the only reason we needed to be out at odd hours anyway….

    I would prefer to advise students on not-so-safe campuses that they should not walk alone when roads/paths are deserted if possible. Or if that is impossible, they should arrange to call a friend when their destination is reached. They should carry some sort of thug deterrent and learn some martial arts. In other words, young adults are capable of taking their safety into their own hands for the most part.

  16. Buffy September 27, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    But the fact is, this is not going to prevent any crime, right?

  17. Alex September 27, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    It’s not mandatory. I’ve seen people talking about apps like this before, and I’m okay with it, since it’s something the student personally opts into.

    I do worry about the number of false alarms, yes, so perhaps if a student doesn’t use the app responsibly then they shouldn’t be allowed to keep using it (and waste more police time)… though it would probably be a liability issue to say a student can’t use the app, so scratch that idea.

    But yeah, I’m not using the app myself, but I don’t mind if others want to use it responsibly.

  18. Roberta September 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    No disrespect to those who might have spent their college years in a drunken stupor, but it depends in the campus how far a student might be walking, and on the environment of the college campus. I would never have used it during the day when I was likely to get redirected from my original route and knew I was perfectly safe, anyway, but I might have appreciated the option to use this when I was returning from my late night work shift. Trust a college student to discern how to use available safety tools responsibly.

  19. CLamb September 27, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    I would not want to attend any university where it is unsafe to walk from a library to a dorm. If it is dangerous to do that much more needs to be done than just use an app.

  20. Dee September 27, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    I work for a university and we actually use this service and I’m glad. For the undergraduates on our main campus, it’s great because many of them live in surrounding neighborhoods. Crime is unfortunately common, largely because the students are seen as easy marks. There’s also no central parking deck and you can use it when you are going to your car.

    I’m also glad because I work on the downtown campus. It’s in a marginally sketchy part of town. I haven’t used it yet, but I park about 3 blocks from my building and walking to my car in the dark can definitely be scary. (For the record, I try to not work past dark, but in the dead of winter it’s tough.)

  21. Stacy September 27, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    I can see this being popular because there was an extreme culture of fear for women on campus when I was in college in a low crime area. Everyone was taught that it was basically insane for a woman to be outside alone at night, even if she had night classes or a job. The campus was very spread out and parking lots were no where near the dorms, so there were lots of opportunities to be caught by evil or drunk men. There were a few incidents over the years that made this not totally irrational, but the fear was extreme. The only good thing about the app is that it might make women feel less dependent on men they trusted to walk with them to “protect” them. Obviously, the police being alerted that you’re late is not actually going to prevent the crime that made you late and there are going to be many false alarms.

  22. GRS September 27, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    To no rest for the weary:

    “I’m not ready to let go of my kid”: The cry of an emotionally selfish parent!

    It is not loving to continue to hold back and restrain a child’s development (or to treat a teenager as a child, or a child as an infant) when a child is clearly ready for that next stage simply to accommodate the fear or worry of that parent. Instead, it is actually selfish of the parent: The parent is putting their own fear before their child’s development, making their child’s wings lame to accommodate their self-centered worry.

    By putting the emphasis on whether THE PARENT is emotionally ready instead of whether or not THE CHILD is ready, the parent is selfishly holding the child in bondage to his/her fear.

    Unfortunately, some parents don’t really want their children to grow up. They want to see them as “sweet and cute” docile babies or small children forever.

  23. Puzzled September 27, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    I don’t know what to say about the boarding school story. The vast majority of teenagers don’t go to boarding schools – they live with their parents. So it’s not such a departure. The difference is that one is by default, while in this case, the parents are specifically saying they don’t think their kids (or should, or whatever) manage without them at that age. But most kids don’t manage without parents at that age. They don’t see them very often – just as these kids don’t see their parents very often.

    In fact, a larger issue here might be boarding schools themselves. A lot, especially the elite ones mentioned, do plenty of ‘helicoptering’ combined with ‘tiger-teacher’ mentality.

  24. lollipoplover September 27, 2014 at 8:08 pm #

    “Rave Guardian campus safety app”

    Perhaps they really engineered this thing to track those techno furry bootie wearing ravers who are taking molly and eating candy necklaces.

  25. Gwen September 27, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    What’s really annoying to me about this is that while students can be and very rarely are assaulted by strangers while walking from the library to the dorm, the vast majority of sexual assaults occur on dates or with trusted friends or lovers. This app is worse than useless and promotes the false oversimplified “stranger in the bushes” stereotype of sexual assault.

    That said, I guess it might have useful applications, even if it’s just a night when one is feeling a little extra vulnerable/afraid.

  26. Donald September 27, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    I’m really amazed. Aren’t these people embarrassed by such things? I sure wouldn’t want to broadcast, “Hey everyone, I’m afraid of my own shadow and an Emotional Candy Ass!” (ECA)

  27. Philip Horner September 27, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    This will work great until some frat boys figure they can use it to have some fun with the campus cops at 2 AM…The old disappearing student trick, etc.

  28. lollipoplover September 28, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    Back in the prehistoric times when I went to college(80’s), there were several freshman orientation classes emphasizing campus safety and recommending the campus escort system(a number you could call to have volunteer walk you in the dark safely to your destination). I remembered being bothered that women were burdened with the *don’t be alone* blame the victim mentality when more education should be directed at both sexes on date rape, alcohol induced poor choices, and self-defense.
    The dangers on campus don’t lurk in the bushes. They were at closing time at the bars and upstairs at the frat houses.

  29. J.T. Wenting September 28, 2014 at 2:31 am #

    “It’s a dumb idea, for sure, but I’m just glad it’s not mandatory.”

    The word you missed there is YET. The moment something like this is thought up is the moment some bureaucrat gets wet dreams about how he can use it to get more control over people…

    And as to preventing false alarms, that can be prevented or reduced by having the app track the location of the person, knowing the location of each building, and automatically send an “all clear” when the destination has been reached.
    But I doubt the creator of the original will have thought of that, it’s too advanced.

  30. Jen September 28, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    looks like a pretty safe place to live compared to the national average. . .not sure how it compares to other college towns as I would imagine that incidences of certain crimes (or reporting of certain crimes) are elevated in a college community.

  31. Tiny Tim September 28, 2014 at 9:20 am #

    more useful would be the app which called the cops if you don’t check back within half an hour to report that the guy who walked you home did, indeed, go the hell home.

  32. Papilio September 28, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    Ooooh – so next time I want to abduct some chick I should grab her phone and tell the app she’s arrived safely (in the back of my windowless van)? Got it.


  33. Tannis September 28, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    I went to school in Cleveland, not so nice a neighborhood,and I walked at night all the time. Most of the time it was fine – I appreciated the quiet beauty of the campus. But there were times it was a little weird. But our school had escorts – you could call security at any time and have someone walk with you. Or you could ride a shuttle most of the way around campus until pretty late. Both of which seem a more personal and community building way to approach the problem!

  34. Donna September 28, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    I have lived a large part of my life within walking distance of the state flagship university with a student body of about 35,000. There has never been a rash – or even a single reported incidence of – people being attacked as they walked around campus. And this is not a school in some idyllic setting. We have a the highest poverty rate of any city our size in the country.

  35. SKL September 28, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    Where I went to school, there was violent crime including (non-date) rape. Not every day, but enough that precautions were wise.

    I did walk alone at night, but I didn’t feel smart about it. It was because the other alternatives were impractical for me. A lot has changed since then, and if I were a student today I’d be sitting all comfy at my laptop at home rather than in the dark, unfriendly law library.

  36. SOA September 28, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    I don’t see how this won’t end up wasting a lot of time of the police. Someone forgot their phone, oops they had to call out the police to search for them.

    Plus who wants the government plotting their every move? Not me. I don’t use any of those check in apps. I might say I was somewhere after the fact or going somewhere but I don’t do minute by minute check ins.

    It is a good idea to have friends and family watching out for you as far as if you don’t show up to class they can call and check on you, but you don’t need to involve the police unless no one can find you over a period of time.

  37. SOA September 28, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    Now cell phones are useful for safety issues but you don’t have to take it this far. Like if you are walking home late at night and feel a little unnerved by it-get your cell out and have it ready in hand to call 911 if someone messes with you. That probably works even quicker than the app. I have done this once or twice in a dark spooky parking garage just in case.

    I think that is more useful than the app thing which if they get enough false alarms will start to be ignored by police most likely.

    Plus having the cell in hand is easier than running to one of those call boxes around campus.

  38. Maggie September 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    Wow, what a great idea….FOR CRIMINALS. Have a friend activate this, then leave campus. While all the campus cops are searching the area of one part of the campus for the “lost” student, you have free run of the other end.

    Also great for harassing your ex! Hack her phone and report her “lost” whenever she goes out with her new boyfriend.

    Wonderful way to waste valuable hours of the campus security while they are searching for someone who simply got distracting and or changed their mind and went somewhere else instead.

    But here is the BIG question: What average college student would actually use this? Isn’t part of going away to college achieving freedom and independence?

  39. Maggie September 28, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    Also, what a wonderful device for STALKERS! Hack you ex’s phone, and know her every move!

  40. lollipoplover September 28, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

    One of the crimes that is most prevalent at my niece’s urban university is cell phone robbery. She told me of 3 of her classmates who were texting and walking (maybe updating their arrival for this app???) and were robbed of their phones. One was punched in the face when she hesitated to give up the phone.

  41. Beth September 28, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    OK, for those of you saying that this is great for high-crime campuses, I guess I’m not understanding how this makes one bit of difference. It doesn’t keep the rapist from hiding in the bushes. It doesn’t keep the cell phone thieves from grabbing phones or intimidating the student into giving up their phone.

    All it does is track leaving time and arrival time, and if it doesn’t make sense they go looking for you. How does this protect anyone from those intent on doing them harm??

  42. SKL September 29, 2014 at 1:17 am #

    To the question of what harm does this prevent? Well, if the cops respond quick enough, and the intended victim has managed to keep the perp at bay rather than be kidnapped and taken elsewhere, then the cops might be able to prevent something bad from happening. They say the most important thing to do if you are attacked is to make sure you don’t let the bad guy take you somewhere else.

    I remember one time I was alone in the inner city (bus stop, deserted area because it was Sunday). A young man came up and started bothering me and trying to get me to go down an alley with him. I did what I could to keep something between me and him until some random guy came walking by. Then the bad guy got scared and ran away. Another time my mom was attacked by a serial rapist as she was walking to her car after work. He was trying to force her into her car “so he could steal her purse.” Despite being 8.5mos pregnant, she fought him off until another man arrived and scared the rapist off. So in other words, if you can manage to stall the bad guy a bit, the app might prevent harm.

    In addition, some people might be deterred just by knowing the target has someone watching out for her.

    As for whether the perp can just steal the phone and type in “I’ve arrived,” I would like to think the designers had the sense to require a passcode or some such.

    And can’t cell phones be tracked pretty easily? One would think it more likely that the bad guy would grab the phone and toss it away if it was human flesh he was after.

    I’m not sure why some people want to insist there is no danger on college campuses in the first place, or that it’s so random that it can’t be managed at all.

  43. JanieMc September 29, 2014 at 5:36 am #

    Big Brother IS wathcing us!! Jeez!

  44. Jill September 29, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    In my experience, cops in college towns (at least the college towns that I’m familiar with) have a pretty jaded opinion of college students, considering them to be a bunch of spoiled, rich, drunken idiots.
    I doubt they’d go tear-assing to the scene if one of them failed to reach their stated destination in time. They’d eventually show up, after stopping off for coffee and doughnuts, by which time the student would either be raped and torn limb from limb by a “perp’ (love the cop-show talk, BTW)or sitting cozily in their dorm room, eating pizza, having forgotten to de-activate the app.

  45. EricS September 29, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Wow. Just another thing that perpetuates people’s unnecessary fears. It’s a vicious cycle. And I can see a lot of false alarms going off on a regular with this. Which would be a drain on campus resources. Imagine, a bunch of students, being…well…college students, getting side tracked, and forgetting to turn off the tracker. Because they ended up going some place else to meet friends. Now you a bunch of campus security driving all over campus looking for these “missing” people.

    Paranoia, it makes people do the dumbest things. Including making apps that would cause more issues than solve. Especially when these issues it was meant to “solve” are extremely rare.

  46. EricS September 29, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    @Beth: It doesn’t. Pretty much, it’s just to notify campus police AFTER the fact. As some one else mentioned, it doesn’t prevent “bad” things from happening. There is no technology in the world that could replace common sense, alertness, attentiveness, and focus of the individual. The best way to protect ourselves, is to know how to protect ourselves without relying on technology to do it for us.

    You can equate it with on-board diagnostic systems in newer cars. It can tell you when to fill up, when to change the oil, when there is something going wrong with your car. But it’s up to the person to get it fixed, and requires a mechanic to do the job. But if the owner of the car maintained it on a regular basis, and took care of their car, they wouldn’t need to fix anything. But that takes thought, care, and awareness on the person’s part. Which no app will do for them.

  47. Donna September 29, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    “To the question of what harm does this prevent? Well, if the cops respond quick enough, and the intended victim has managed to keep the perp at bay rather than be kidnapped and taken elsewhere, then the cops might be able to prevent something bad from happening. They say the most important thing to do if you are attacked is to make sure you don’t let the bad guy take you somewhere else.”

    All it tracks is beginning and ending destinations and times. So, yes, I guess it COULD be helpful in the one situation where you are accosted at your destination and the police truly come within minutes of being notified that you did not appear.

    However, in the actual real world, where campus cops will not drop everything to respond to this app in person immediately, where it takes time to get from where the cops are to where you are supposed to be, where you are accosted someplace other than your final destination, where campuses are large and there is more than one way between two points, and where resources are limited and cops are not devoting all their manpower to investigating calls from this app, this app is fairly useless at preventing crime.

  48. Aimee September 29, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    This is stupid. I went to school in a place where the campus was quite safe, but the surrounding city had a fairly high crime rate. We had “SafeWalk,” which was awesome. Female student (me) studying late at the library? Call SafeWalk! Teams of pairs of sweet and friendly upperclassmen would be on-call until daybreak to escort women students home to her dorm, safely. Not sure if it was volunteer or a work-study job, but you could have a worse gig in life than walking a young lady home. And not a bad way for nice girls & nice guys to meet each other, either 😉

  49. Donna September 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    “I’m not sure why some people want to insist there is no danger on college campuses in the first place, or that it’s so random that it can’t be managed at all.”

    Of course, there is crime on college campuses, just as there is crime outside of college campuses, but college campuses are not hotbeds of strangers jumping of bushes anymore than the world outside of campus is a hotbed of strangers jumping out of bushes. It is simply an extremely rare crime – not unheard of either on campus or off – but not at all common. Nor are such crimes somehow less random and more predictable in college campuses. The ONLY thing that makes coeds more of a target is the fact that many of them tend to wander around impaired, but again this is true on or off campus.

    It would be no more important for my daughter to have this app walking from the library to her dorm than it would be for me to have this app when I walk the dog (something I often do very late at night). Are you really arguing that police departments everywhere should be monitoring the status every time someone takes their dog for a walk on the one in a million chance that I will get attacked on one of those walks? How do you intend to fund this?

  50. SKL September 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    No, Donna, I’m not even saying this is the best thing to do. I think it makes more sense to call your roommate and tell her you’re on your way, or have a loud panic button or pepper spray or black belt or something. Or better yet, plan to not be out alone at night in the first place. And no, none of those is fool proof protection either. I was just asking someone’s question about whether the app could make a difference in any situation. There are times when having someone “on their way soon” is better than not.

    As for whether anyone is ever less safe on/near campus than elsewhere, OK, I am going to say something that some people may not like. Where I went to grad school, it was a bunch of mostly white and Asian students in the middle of a nearly 100% poor black inner-city setting, known for a history of racial tension. There, a young, not-poor, white woman walking alone to an off-campus apartment at night is conspicuous and more of a target than she would be in most other situations. It is not rare for people of that demographic to live in off-campus apartments. And even if a violent crime doesn’t happen every day, there is nothing wrong with taking precautions against it.

    What sucked when I went was that if you lived off campus, the campus police, shuttle service, escorts, etc. were not available to you.

    It was a scary walk. You can take my word for it or not. Just because I was never raped doesn’t mean I’d recommend that walk to other women without some precautions taken. I was never hit by a car either, but I don’t think road safety is a waste of time.

  51. SKL September 29, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    answering someone’s question, not asking. (In my previous post.)

  52. SKL September 29, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    As for the comparison to you taking your dog for a walk – no logic. Even if your neighborhood is as high-crime and full of racial tension as the one I’m talking about, you probably aren’t walking in the dark night after all the university study areas are closed. And more importantly, you have your dog. That is a deterrent right there. Between his teeth and the noise he’s likely to make if excited, it isn’t worth messing with you.

  53. Donna September 29, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    “There, a young, not-poor, white woman walking alone to an off-campus apartment at night is conspicuous and more of a target than she would be in most other situations.”

    Quite possible, however, this system doesn’t work off-campus. This notification goes to campus police. Campus police have absolutely no authority off campus. Campus police now have to coordinate with local police, and from my vast experience in dealing with police departments, they are not inclined to drop everything to investigate an ADULT running late getting home, which is all that is being reported.

  54. Donna September 29, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    SKL – I walk my dog well after dark every single night (dog needs to pee before bed), often as late as midnight and occasionally later, and my neighborhood is two blocks from the health science portion of the university and less than 2 miles from the main campus so if ample crime was occurring there, I’m fully in its path. And my cat is actually bigger than my dog who weighs a grand total of 12 pounds on a heavy day and doesn’t bark (the kid picked the dog, not me). Still not concerned that I am going to be jumped while out walking the dog. Not because I am somehow invincible, but because it is just an extremely rare crime. It is as likely as my daughter being kidnapped while walking to school down these exact same roads.

  55. Beth September 29, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    Exactly, Donna. If I am walking from library to dorm, and it should take me 15 minutes, there’s nothing in this app to keep me from being “grabbed” 5 minutes into the walk. 10 minutes later, the cops get an alert but by then I’ve already been the victim of a crime. Yes, if I’m laying bloody on the pedestrian path they will find me, but the rest is security theater. It doesn’t make me one bit safer.

  56. Donna September 29, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    I think some need a reality check as to the priority of a missing adult for the police. Unlike a missing child, police do not go on red-alert for a missing adult, unless the adult has some impairment or they have some actual evidence of foul play. The reason being that adults are actually free to go wherever they want without checking in with anyone.

    Last fall, we actually had a local college student go missing between campus and her off-campus residence. She tried to call her boyfriend for a ride, but then texted that she would just walk or ride the bus. When she didn’t show up at home, the boyfriend tried to contact her for a few hours without getting a response and then reported her missing. While a cop did ping her phone and look around the area where it was pinging the next morning, they did not go on an all-out manhunt as soon as they received the call and scour every possible route between campus and her home. It doesn’t appear that they did much of anything until daylight as a matter of fact.

    (She was found dead a short distance from her home, but foul play was not involved).

  57. Diana September 30, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    Isn’t college supposed to be the place you truly get to spread your wings and fend for yourself? 20 (ok more like 25) years ago I walked all over campus by myself and if it was late, I found someone to walk with me or I just took the most lighted /safest path I could. There were plenty of self defense classes available to take for free too (gasp we actually learned to defend ourselves!). Guilty of lots of underage drinking but so was everyone. Now kids at state schools get expelled for partying. Really?? How on earth did we all survive the college experience without threats of expulsion over our heads and people to watch over us to make sure we didn’t behave inappropriately. Shoot we went to at least 3 parties a week, went to class hungover , took notes and then went to the library to look in real books and even scroll thru microfiche ( not a fun exercise when you’re hungover btw). We got our papers done on time and still had good grades. We did it because we were young had stamina and sure as heck didn’t want to miss out on a good rager because we didn’t have the foresight to get our homework done! Plus our parents would kick our rear ends if our grades went in the tank. So we figured out how to juggle it all and we had a great time doing it. We didn’t need the university breathing down our necks and we didn’t need to be tracked 24/7 ( what a night mare). We watched out fir each other and we learned to fend for ourselves. I would not be nearly so confident today without the college experience. Why is it being take away from our kids today???

  58. Warren September 30, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Just out of curiousity. If some demon of a predator attacks and abducts a college student, what are the chances that the students cellphone is going to be kept with her? My opinion is any tech form of communication is going to be either smashed or just tossed.

    Again a piece of tech that claims it provide security. When all it will do is two things.
    1. Going off the last ping, authorities will be searching in all the wrong areas.
    2. Narrow the starting area in which to have the dogs search for a body.

  59. BMS September 30, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    Personally, I think the best thing you can do for your own safety walking around a city is to put the phone away entirely and just be aware. I see so many people walking around, head buried in their phone, stepping in front of street level trolleys and cars, completely oblivious to their surroundings. I could (if I were so inclined) come up behind them, knock them on the head and take their stuff with almost no difficulty. If you’re in an iffy area, you need to be alert, observant, and not distracted. Pretty much the opposite of headphones on, buried in your smartphone.

  60. Buffy September 30, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    @Diana, I bet you didn’t need trigger warnings in the syllabus for every class either!!

  61. Emily September 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    @Aimee–During my second round of university, our school had something like your SafeWalk, except it was called Foot Patrol. Same concept–a boy-and-girl pair would walk students home from campus at night if they didn’t feel safe, and some nights, they even had a Foot Patrol van to drive people home. The only problem was, the house I lived in off-campus was about a kilometre away (theoretically, but the formation of the roads made it a rather circuitous route, plus hey, Canadian winter nights), so it was apparently JUST outside the Foot Patrol radius. So, if the Foot Patrol team was going strictly by the book that night, and couldn’t drive me home from the music building/art building/whatever, I’d have them drop me off at my friend Katie’s house instead, which was just a short walk away from mine.

  62. SKL October 1, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    Donna, where I disagree with you is that in some places, it’s not that rare for a woman to be attacked while out walking. It’s much less rare than it would be for a young child. That’s why it’s so illogical for people to always think the older a girl is, the safer she is outside. It’s the other way around.

    Go to some neighborhoods and many of the women will tell you they’ve been raped not once, but multiple times.

    Why do you keep insisting the risk of a woman being attacked is a fantasy? I know too many people personally who have been physically attacked, robbed with a gun, or violently raped in the city where I went to grad school. Not just stories. By contrast, I don’t know one person whose young kid never came home because of kidnapping.

    I agree with the person who said it’s probably best to put your phone away and be aware (and look all big and bad while you’re at it). But better to just stay off the street if you can at a time/place that isn’t safe.

  63. Donna October 1, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    SKL –

    According to the CDC (and every other source concerning rape, the CDC was just the one I got these numbers), 18.3% of women will be raped in their lifetime. In only 13.8% of those cases will the perpetrator be a stranger, meaning that something like 2.53% of women will be raped by a stranger (I’m not a math expert so this may be off, but seems about right). Since many stranger rapes happen during home invasions or in other similar manners, the percentage of women raped while walking down the street is even smaller than 2.53%. My guess, based only on my years of personal experience in seeing rape cases prosecuted and not any real statistics, is that it is considerably less.

    So, not only will the vast majority of women never be raped at all, but the chances of being raped by a stranger while you are walking down the street are extremely small. While I agree that the risk is definitely higher in some areas than others, it is NEVER an exceedingly high risk. It wasn’t just by chance that you were never raped walking home from college. It was highly statistically unlikely to occur.

    I am not saying that people should wander around bad neighborhoods for kicks and giggles, but there does seem to be an overreaction to women, particularly college-aged women as that seems to be where a large amount of concern is, walking alone.

  64. SKL October 3, 2014 at 1:08 am #

    Donna, you know your statistics from the CDC prove nothing about the risk in a specific place. It is obvious that the risk is many times higher in some places than others.

    And it is not surprising if you, a defense attorney, haven’t worked on too many cases where a stranger attacked a woman on the street. The woman would have to identify the guy in order for prosecution to occur. That is obviously easier to do if you know the guy. Pretty difficult if it is a stranger, especially in the dark with him possibly covering his face etc. They never caught the serial rapist who attacked my mom, even though they had multiple reports and descriptions.

    My dorm mate was from another country and she thought the neighborhood was safe since there were lots of nice houses (compared to where she came from). So she was out taking a nice walk on her first day in town (during daylight hours). A city cop stopped her and told her to get off the streets because students were not safe walking there. This was 20+ years ago and she was 30yo, so it wasn’t about the recent trend toward helicoptering adolescents.

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