By Marisa Russell (Special to the Chronicle) Off-campus students may feel a little safer when traveling home now.
A new night shuttle made its first trial run on Friday around the perimeter of Hempstead to ensure that students who live off-campus are safe. These concerns were raised after a series of crime incidents occurred in the area.
Several new initiatives have been created through the “task force,” comprised of Sandra Johnson, Vice President of Student Affairs, Joseph Barkwill, Vice President of Facilities and Operations, and about 30 other students, staff, parents and community members.
“The thing to keep in mind is every year Public Safety looks at how they can enhance safety measures on the campus, this [task force] isn’t a one-time thing that we do,” Johnson said.
According to Johnson, the task force is meant to present ideas to President Rabinowitz that are to be handled in a short time period and be solved quickly.
The night shuttle is one of the largest items that has come out of the task force, and appeared to be number one on the list. The shuttle is designed to run the normal campus bus route, as well as make stops in the surrounding off-campus neighborhoods where many students live.
The route was established based on population density in certain areas. According to Johnson, this is why the university asked for students to update their contact information.
The bus route is available online at my.hofstra.edu through the night shuttle icon. The bus can also be located through the My Hofstra application.
“The bus is equipped with a GPS so that students can track the bus,” said Charles Forrest, Associate Director of Public Safety.“This makes it so that if they need a ride all they have to do is look on the web to find the exact location.”
Elissa Salamy, a sophomore journalism major, says that the application has small glitches now but it will be worked on as the route for the shuttle is finalized.
The trial run for the shuttle will determine where to best locate bus stops and changes will be made as needed, according to both Johnson and Barkwill.
Many students utilized the shuttle last weekend. Lyndsay Crescenti, freshman drama major, had an optimistic reaction to the bus.
“The feel that I got was that the bus driver was really cool, he was playing popular radio music and he was very responsive to us,” Crescenti said. “He drove us right to the building and we didn’t have to worry about walking.”
Both Johnson and Barkwill anticipate that students will take the opportunity to use this service, especially as the weather gets cooler—a sentiment echoed by Salamy.
“I think that it’s definitely a good move towards making places off campus safe,” said Salamy.“I’ve been on night buses on other campuses and they were always well reserved and helped get people to and from places they need to be.”
In an email sent out to all students and staff last week, President Stuart Rabinowitz stated additional new initiatives that were developed by the task force. These initiatives include an addition of public safety officers to the campus staff, the installation of LED lights along buildings and walkways and the addition of 10 safety phones.
Over the past few weeks, lights have been installed and trees trimmed to increase lighting along the roadway. Additionally, phones have been installed and two additional public safety officers were hired.
These moves appear to have support among the student body.
“I have never had a negative experience with Public Safety,” Salamy said. “I think adding more public safety officers is definitely a good thing.”
Members of the task force are hoping that not only will these initiatives make off campus safe and assist with transportation, but also increase the responsibility that students take for themselves.
“The truth is that our campus is very, very safe,” said Johnson. “This [night shuttle] is a way to expand students’ sense of safety and awareness in more suburban communities.”
The night shuttle has seen positive outcomes after the first weekend and officials are hopeful entering the second weekend of its launch, beginning on Monday Oct. 21, with service every day of the week from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.