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OU falls short on late night protection

When Chloe Power was a freshman, she was walking home late at night after a meeting had ended. Feeling uncomfortable to walk across campus in the dark, she called the CATS Late Night service to be picked up.

While OU has the CATS Late Night service which runs seven days a week from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m., other Ohio schools in the Mid-American Conference provide students with rides through student-run committees or programs within on-campus police departments.

After waiting for more than 30 minutes, she decided to walk home. She came across an Ohio University police car and remembered being told at Bobcat Student Orientation, that students could call to be escorted home if they felt unsafe.

“I knocked on her window and she rolled it down and I said, 'Hi, I live on the other side of campus and I just don't really feel comfortable with walking home. Is there any way you could escort me or walk with me or anything?',” Power, a junior studying early-childhood education, said.

The police officer said that the department does not escort students and continued to roll up her window. Power ended up walking home that night.

“It’s not something we normally do, generally because we are engaged in other duties or have to be available to do other things where having a rider would not be a good idea,” OUPD Lt. Tim Ryan said.

Ryan said that depending on the situation, accommodations could be made.

“It’s certainly on a case by case basis,” he said. “It’s not something we routinely do but certainly if there were extenuating circumstances we could certainly accommodate that.”

Miami University uses BCRTA SafeRide and the campus police department will also escort if a student is coming or going to a study place, work or an other educational environment.

The University of Toledo has a student-run committee called Night Watch, where two-person teams who are equipped with two-way radios can escort students home. Bowling Green State University also has a student-run committee called Campus Escort Service.

The University of Akron’s police department has a program called Campus Patrol, where patrol members or police officers will escort students to and from any campus location. Kent State University has a similar program where trained students employed by the Department of Residence Services will escort students across campus.

Of the Ohio MAC schools, OU is the only school that does not have a designated service or committee for student escorts.

Miranda Printz, a freshman studying anthropology, said she has used the CATS Late Night service before but the wait was too long.

“I’m a commuter and I actually dropped a class because it was at 9:30 at night,” Printz said. “I called the CAT cab and they told me it was a two hour wait.”

Carly Leatherwood, a university spokeswoman, said the CATS Late Night service has had the ridership nearly quadruple since September 2017.

“Since our efforts to meet increased demand, we have served approximately 200 individuals each night with minimal issues,” Leatherwood said in an email. “Efforts to meet increased ridership demand have allowed for on average 150-175 nightly serviced rides with minimal issues. Last Thursday, CATS Late Night service was able to provide a record setting 272 rides.”

Leatherwood also said the service accepts more immediate requests.

“It is important to note that overall shuttle wait times are dependent upon existing ride demand and passenger loads at time of reservation request,” Leatherwood said in an email. “However, requests for service are typically fulfilled within 10-15 minutes.”

This academic year, the Athens Police Department and the Ohio University Police Department has received a combined total of 20 reports of sexual assault.

To help combat the issue, students have decided to take a stand through rallying, and one student created a GroupMe for students who need someone to walk or drive them home late at night, according to a previous Post report.

@TF_Johnston

tj369915@ohio.edu

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