PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY SERENA ANAGBE / SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY
Foot Patrol is back on campus making their presence known, walking with Laurier Golden Hawks every step of the way.
Walking alone at night can be daunting for students, especially those who are new to the campus.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Foot Patrol had been running virtual walks for students in need while in-person support was unavailable. Students were tracked by staff through the SafeHawk app until they reached their destination.
Now that the Foot Patrol team has more volunteers, in-person walks have made their long-awaited return.
“I’m so glad that we’re still there for the one person that will have to need it,” said Alexander Chirpac, Foot Patrol coordinator.
Many students have been reluctant to use Foot Patrol until recently, due to the virtual service. Students don’t feel the virtual walks were as effective or kept them as safe.
Chirpac feels that many students have gotten used to the Brantford campus and have become accustomed to not having in-person Foot Patrol walks, seeing as the initiative had restarted relatively late into the Fall 2021 semester.
From 6:30-10:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, students can get a free and safe in-person walk home by two volunteers, while on Fridays, walks will remain virtual.
This change to in-person walking is hoped to ensure student safety, as well as an increase in the use of the service.
Additionally, because many first and second year students have not been on campus before due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first encounter many students have had with in-person Foot Patrol walks.
“We’ve started doing patrols of the campus,” said Chirpac. Every hour, Foot Patrol volunteers check many of the popular spots on campus, looking for any students who need to get somewhere safely.
Foot Patrol would ideally like to move to having in-person walks every night of the week; however, due to a lack of volunteers, this is currently not possible. Chirpac must take into account the schedules and availability of his volunteers, as well as how many are licensed to drive the Foot Patrol van. The Foot Patrol van is used in bad weather and when students need to travel longer distances.
Chirpac states the team is doing their best given the circumstances.
“The whole focus of that initiative is to ensure the safety of our students,” said Sergeant Rick Tout, a member of Laurier Brantford’s Special Constable Service.
Other ways for students to stay safe when on campus at night is to be aware of their surroundings and try to always find the best way to promote their safety.
“It’s kind of a safety in numbers,” said Tout. With more students returning to campus, the hope is that Laurier Brantford will become a safer place to go to school. Currently, Foot Patrol provides the protection of being part of a group.
Students can access Foot Patrol through the SafeHawk app whenever they are in need of a safe walk home.