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Students offered safe shuttles by security

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Students at Saint Mary’s cross the street to Notre Dame to study, socialize, attend meetings, exercise and eat on a daily basis. And they often rely on the Saint Mary’s Security Department to get them home safe and sound.

With days getting shorter and weather getting colder, the 15-minute walk or five-minute bike ride to Notre Dame has become less and less appealing to many Saint Mary’s students. Instead they are choosing more often use the various modes of free transportation offered.

Dave Chapman, director of security at Saint Mary’s, said there are three escort services offered to students: the trolley, the escort van and security escorts in squad cars.

“There are always safety issues,” Chapman said. “That is why we provide these services. It is a proactive way to prevent something bad from happening to one of our students.”

In October alone, the escort van and security officers gave more than 2,900 students an escort.

“No matter what, there is always some way to get back to campus,” Saint Mary’s freshman Emily Tarnacki said. “I always feel safe because I know if the Sweep isn’t running, security will be there in a phone call.”

The trolley, known as the Sweep, runs from 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and stops at Main Circle and Library Circle. The Sweep runs from 7 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. at the same locations Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Saturdays.

But the trolley does not run on Sundays, one of the most common complaints among students who use the shuttle service.

Saint Mary’s freshman Jameson Loubsky said oftentimes she spends most of the day on Sunday at Notre Dame studying and meeting with friends. The downside is she usually has no way of getting back to Saint Mary’s without walking or riding a bike back at night.

“Once it starts snowing, I am not going to be able to go between campuses as easily since the shuttle does not run on Sundays,” she said.

Freshman Rachel Kalas had similar sentiments.

“Sometimes I find myself missing my club meetings on Sundays at Notre Dame because it is just too much of a hassle to walk to Notre Dame when it is raining or I am just running late,” she said.

Despite students’ qualms, the Sweep is the most popular form of transportation to and from Notre Dame and is free for anyone holding a Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s ID card.

Saint Mary’s sophomore Megan Welsch, who rides the trolley frequently, said it is the safest way to travel back and forth.

“Although the Sweep isn’t the most efficient way for Saint Mary’s girls to enjoy Notre Dame, it is the safest, most reliable and only resource [for students without cars],” she said.

Saint Mary’s security also provides an escort van around campus, which is affectionately called “Blinkie” by Saint Mary’s students.

The van drives around Saint Mary’s campus only and takes students safely from building to building when they do not feel safe walking alone after dark.

The third escort service for Saint Mary’s students is security officer escorts in squad cars. These officers pick up students at the Grotto after the Sweep is no longer running for the night.

Chapman said Saint Mary’s students appreciate these rides.

“Students are respectful and nice to the Security Officers,” he said.

Chapman said another common problem with the escorts is that students will go to the Grotto and call for security while the Sweep is still running because it is more convenient than walking to one of the pickup points.

“If they [the students] could use the Sweep instead of the Security Officer on our campus to pick them up, this would keep the Security Officer on our campus to perform their duties here,” he said. “Once the Sweep stops, we are more than glad to give them a ride.”

Safety is the most important element of each service, Chapman said.

“The Sweep, escort van and Officer Escorts are all done for the safety of our students,” she said. “That is the most important point in our Security Department – the safety of the Saint Mary’s College Community.”