UW-Eau Claire Police launches Safe Walk and Safe Ride Program

Students and UW- Eau Claire Police work together to promote new security on campus

More stories from Winter Heffernan

April 3, 2023

Photo by Winter Heffernan

The university police are now providing a service to walk or drive blugolds on campus.

This semester the campus police department has launched a program to help students, staff and faculty have safe transportation throughout campus properties. 

The Safe Ride and Walk program was developed throughout the summer by three students and the university police. It was launched during the week of Sept. 7 this semester.

“One of the reasons we supported building this was because the campus is a safe community,” Jay Dobson, the chief of university police, said. 

Campus Cab was a program that no longer exists. The Safe Walk and Safe Ride program was created in part to provide a substitute. Originally the Safe Walk and Safe drive programs were going to be launched in the spring, but the mass vaccination clinics during the spring semester took up much of the time needed to prepare the program.

“The safe ride and the safe walk programs help to eliminate those opportunities for bad people to do bad things,” Dobson said.

According to the UW-Eau Claire Safe Walk webpage, the program will run every day of the week from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. During this time, a blugold can call 715-836-3333 and provide their name and location. Once the number is called, the caller can pick between a safe walk or a safe drive. 

This program will only provide transportation to or from campus properties. TheSafe Walk and Ride program will take you or meet you off-campus, but the other destination or starting point must be on campus property. For more specific information on the areas available, see the image provided on the UW-Eau Claire Safe Walk webpage.

“As long as you have a blugold ID, whether you are a student, faculty or staff, it is a completely free ride,” Cecily Ennis, a student campus safety officer who helped create the program, said.

The Safe Drive program, on its slowest week, provided seven safe rides. During the program’s busiest week, they provided over 20. Safe drives are expected to become even more frequent as the weather gets colder in Eau Claire, Dobson said.

The program is staffed by campus security officers and is supervised by three student CSOs. Students can apply to become CSOs by filling out a form on the UW- Eau Claire Police Department website. 

“We take any student with any major as long as they are full-time students,” Ennis said.

Kristi Bergstrom, the university police associate and a UW-Eau Claire alumni, said when she went to UW-Eau Claire as a student, she would have used the program all of the time if it existed at the time. 

“Walking back from McIntyre Library to Oak Ridge when it’s late, like 11 p.m., that doesn’t feel like the greatest time to walk back to your room,” Bergstrom said.

For more information on the Safe Walk and Safe Drive programs, check out the UW-Eau Claire Safe Walk webpage

If you would like to become a campus security officer or learn more about the position, please visit the student patrol webpage.

Heffernan can be reached at [email protected].