SURE Walk remains in high demand

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Photo Credit: Justin Kong | Daily Texan Staff

The number of SURE Walk users has remained high throughout the past month, following a 400 percent increase in requests for the service after the on-campus homicide.

Krishan Sachdev, SURE Walk director and health and society junior, said he is happy students continue to use the service.

“Once people use our service once, we notice that they become consistent,” Sachdev said. “We welcome that happily.”

While a significant increase in users occurred after Haruka Weiser’s death in early April, Sachdev said the program had been experiencing a steady rise since September 2015. He said extra volunteers were added during that time to prepare for a continual increase.

Sachdev said he encourages students to volunteer by submitting a form online, which is used to request a background check from the office of the Dean of Students. The applicant is then required to complete formal training to be added to the volunteer list.

“Students around campus have answered our call to action and have passionately volunteered their time to our organization,” Sachdev said.

After the homicide, the amount of volunteer spots doubled to accommodate the increased demand for walks home. SURE Walk now maintains 20 volunteers a night. Sachdev said students seem more willing to pursue preventative resources and protect themselves on campus.

Accounting senior Hannah West Nover said she has volunteered for SURE Walk since the fall of 2014 and typically would only receive one request during a 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift. She said the recent influx of requests has been difficult to manage, but she is glad more students are starting to use the service.

“Prior to the recent events on campus, we would rarely ever walk anybody home,” West Nover said. “Now that the word on campus has been spread about the service, we rarely have an evening with nothing to do.”

In the weeks after the homicide, the service added two bases — the Flawn Academic Center and the Student Activity Center — for students to request a walk in person. The program also welcomed 78 new volunteers. The Student Government-led program is also working to implement a volunteer location at F. Loren Winship Drama Building.

Sachdev said he thinks the number of users will remain high next semester because of increased accessibility and awareness of the service. Student Government, in partnership with the University, is developing an app that will provide students with the option of a virtual walk home, which is scheduled to be completed by August.

Taral Patel, government senior and former SURE Walk director, said the mobile application will use GPS technology to enable volunteers to track the user’s progress until they reach their destination. He said someone who requests a virtual walk through this application will be monitored, and in the event of any long pauses in the tracking, a volunteer and police would be sent. 

“With this application, you are able to get the exact GPS coordinates of where the individual is and based on that, we can directly send our volunteers to find the person and make sure they get to their residence,” Patel said.