We(s)Walk, a new student organization, is attempting to make students feel more comfortable walking alone late at night by pairing them with student volunteers who will accompany them to their destinations. Earlier this academic year, TJ Blackburn ’16 came up with the similar idea of pairing Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) brothers with Rho Epsilon (Rho Ep) sisters for late-night commutes. After he discussed the idea with Chloe Leeds ’16, it became apparent that such a system should be accessible for all students at the University, not just members of DKE and Rho Ep. Thus We(s)Walk was born.
“I have known TJ since freshman year, and he was telling me about his idea, and I thought there should be a service like that for the entire campus,” Leeds said. “We started working together on how we could set it up, and this is the idea that came out of it.”
Several larger universities, such as Yale, Boston University, and Berkeley, have implemented similar services. Leeds believes that just because Wesleyan has a smaller campus does not mean the University is without the need for a late night buddy system.
On Sunday, Nov. 2, the organizers set up a Facebook page and account, on which they provided a survey to gauge interest in both using the service and volunteering to be a walker.
“Out of the 70 people who responded, 70 [to] 75 [percent] of people would both use the service and volunteer,” Leeds said. “We are planning on continuing with the Facebook page, as well as putting up posters on
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campus, and trying to gain popularity by word of mouth.”
This method of execution has seemed to be successful so far, as several individuals have messaged We(s)Walk on Facebook, and others have approached Leeds and Blackburn in person to express interest in the idea.
“Over time, we are hoping that it will gain popularity simply because it is a service that has been lacking on campus, and people will take notice of that,” Leeds said.
Based on the feedback received from the survey, We(s)Walk will most likely run from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. As of now, 45 percent of individuals who responded think it should run from Sunday to Thursday, 35 percent think it should run from Thursday to Saturday, and 20 percent think it should run every day.
“Later at night is when a lot of the assaults and crimes we get Public Safety announcements about take place, and this is when we believe campus needs a little extra help with safety,” Leeds said. “Originally, the thought of limiting it from Sunday [to] Thursday was due to the fact that it may be hard to get volunteers on the weekend nights when people want to hang out with their friends. However, due to the large number of people who think it should run on the weekends, it will most likely run every night.”
Michael Ortiz ’17 expressed his anticipation of this new service.
“I think it’s a good plan and a noble effort,” Ortiz said. “I think it’s something that is very important to campus.”
He hesitated to call it a success just yet, wanting to see a detailed plan of how the system would work before offering any conclusions.
“I’m just excited to see how it’s executed and if it can be executed efficiently at the scale that it wants to be executed at,” Ortiz said. “I would have to see the plan for it [to decide whether or not I think it will be efficient], but I would expect it to be efficient and I hope it will be.”
Other students expressed their enthusiasm regarding We(s)Walk. Samantha Hellberg ’16 thinks this service will be beneficial to students.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Hellberg said. “Wesleyan usually feels pretty safe to me, but I know there are definitely times and nights when I would feel safer or more comfortable walking home with someone. It’s great to have that resource.”
Leeds further noted that individuals have expressed interest in volunteering for the service. Within the next week, Leeds and Blackburn will compile a list of interested students. There will be an application for these students to complete.
“There will be an application that asks why the person wants to volunteer and why they think the service is necessary,” Leeds said. “In order for this service to be successful, there needs to be trust between the walkers-—one male and one female—and the person being walked home. We want to ensure that every walker has the safety of the person they are walking home in mind, and nothing else.”
The organizers intend to have the service available by the end of this semester, and they hope to have it in full swing by the spring semester.