Student Escort Program means more piece of mind for students

By Web Master

The Security Department at Columbia College is looking for student applicants to act as part-time security escorts at night. These escorts would accompany other students, faculty, and staff to their vehicles, train stations, or other campus buildings after dark.

With the continued expansion of the Columbia College campus comes additional distances students and staff must traverse to get to these sites. Though the Chicago Police District that encompasses this area of the South Loop has a very low crime rate, the perception of some of the underdeveloped areas south of the main campus and the greater distances that newer campus buildings at 1415 S. Wabash, 72 E. 11th St., and 33 E. Congress entail have given greater legitimacy to such a service.

This service is designed to involve students in the South Loop community and promote a campus atmosphere, according to Martha Meegan-Linehan, Director of Administrative Services at Columbia College. “This is a joint venture with the Chicago Police Department to build on community policing,” said Meegan-Linehan. Escorts would wear special, highly visible jackets and carry radios linked with the main security command post at 623 S. Wabash. This visibility would enable police officers in the area to identify the escorts more easily. A new security vehicle operated by Columbia College would also be on patrol for sensitive incidents. “There’s safety in numbers,” noted Columbia College Security Director Jose Gallegos.

These escorts, however, need not have a bodyguard’s physique. “We’re just looking for students who have a flexible schedule, a clean background, and are customer-service oriented,” said Meegan-Linehan. Applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.0.

Gallegos also said that of the 25 Chicago Police Districts, the 1st District, which covers most of the Columbia College campus, has the lowest crime rate. “We see the area getting even better,” added Meegan-Linehan, noting the continued urban development of points south in recent years. She noted that the College has had several calls from parents regarding their concerns about students’ late classes, and that a band of student escorts would definitely serve to allay those fears. “As the school grows, the security for the school should grow with it,” said Gallegos.

Escort wannabes would undergo a training workshop conducted by a private security firm in conjunction with the CPD, teaching the students street awareness, attentiveness techniques, “and common sense,” said Meegan-Linehan. Escorts would be compensated monetarily through the work-aide program and would be available free of charge to all students, faculty, and staff between 5 and 11 p.m. The escorts would utilize the best available routes between the campus and train stations, said Gallegos.

The problem? Not enough applicants, said Meegan-Linehan. “We need a minimum of four students working per evening. Last year alone [when the program was first introduced] we had a total of two applicants,” she said.

Applications for student escorts can be found at the Career Planning and Placement Office on the third floor, 623 S. Wabash.