Two years ago, government junior Isaiah Carter spent an entire semester volunteering with SURE Walk and only received one call to walk a student home over the course of four months.
Students United for Rape Elimination, or SURE Walk, was founded in 1982 by then Student Body President Paul Begala as a means to provide students with a walking buddy to-and-from campus. Before the murder of dance freshman Haruka Weiser early last April, the organization was widely underused and unnoticed, Carter said.
“It’s good that campus safety is now on the forefront of the campus dialogue, but it’s a little concerning that it takes instances like (the murder) to remind students how important
campus safety is,” Carter said. “The end goal is to make students use the service despite instances like that.”
When he was appointed Student Government chief of staff just three weeks after Weiser’s murder, Isaiah Carter made vamping up the service one of his top priorities. Two years after he first volunteered as a freshman, when the organization would receive at most 10–15 requests each week, it now receives hundreds to thousands of requests each month.
Last month, SURE Walk received 2,827 requests from students. In the two months prior, nearly 1,000 walks and rides were requested, according to records provided by UT Parking and
SURE Walk’s transformation began last summer after SG and PTS allowed the group to secure finances for supplies such as flashlights, t-shirts and walkie talkies for its volunteers. PTS also provided the group with two cars, allowing SURE Walk to expand its abilities and begin offering rides to students.
The partnership with PTS also allowed SURE Walk to begin tracking monthly ride requests and peak operation hours, provide paid staffers during summer months and late-night hours and establish a permanent office in Jester Center for volunteers. Additionally, a $20,000 donation from Begala last fall allowed SURE Walk to purchase two golf carts.
While SG was in the planning stages of amping up SURE Walk’s services last spring, the UT Police Department provided an interim transportation solution.
“(After Weiser’s murder), we had guards at night with vans and Suburbans to assist students,” UTPD Chief David Carter said. “It was a quick response to make sure campus had some kind of a backup system as we figured out what the future held in terms of transportation services.”
UTPD continues to informally offer rides to students at night, but SURE Walk provides a formal transportation program for the community, David Carter said.
Sociology freshman Evangelina Rivera said while SURE Walk is a great service, but it still has room for improvement.
“I think it’s an awesome service, but they should definitely do things like have later hours,” Rivera said. “I think people stay out a lot later than midnight or two in the morning, and (SURE Walk) would be a good thing for students to have on those nights.”
Isaiah Carter plans to continue meeting with PTS and the new chief of staff, who will be instated early next month, to discuss future plans for the organization. Proposed plans include expanding volunteer recruitment and serving students further off campus in the Riverside area.
To request a SURE Walk, students can call 512-232-9255 between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday.