Tag Archives: safety

Night Shuttle Service Extended, Some Delays Expected

Although the Night Shuttle hours have been extended Thursday through Sunday, some delays are to be expected due to limited vehicles. However, Public Safety offers an escort at all hours if a student feels unsafe or needs assistance.  Photo by Melissa Stihl/Foghorn

Although the Night Shuttle hours have been extended Thursday through Sunday, some delays are to be expected due to limited vehicles. However, Public Safety offers an escort at all hours if a student feels unsafe or needs assistance. Photo by Melissa Stihl/Foghorn

Public Safety’s night safety shuttle has extended its hours to 3 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as of Sept. 1, which has been a collaborative effort between the Department of Public Safety and ASUSF Senate since last semester to increase weekend night services by two hours.

The night safety shuttle, which provides students transportation to and from on-campus and off-campus residences, still runs from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sunday through Wednesday, but Thursday through Saturday, last drop-offs are now made at 3 a.m. ASUSF approved the extended hours in April of 2009, with the exception that ASUSF provided funds for the extra hours served since Public Safety did not have sufficient funds to do it on their own in the past.

Now, students have until 2:30 a.m. to request the night shuttle service for pick-up or drop-off, which is the cutoff for the days ending at 3 a.m. For days ending at 1 a.m., students have until 12:30 a.m.

“I think extending the hours will make our campus safer as long as students are aware of it and utilize it,” said junior Kendra Brazile. “When I used to use it, they stopped at 1 or 12, so if I wanted to get back to main campus, say from Lomo [Lone Mountain] or LV [Loyola Village], after those hours I would have to call public safety or walk, and I would usually end up walking.”

Although the new hours will be implemented throughout the entire school year, ASUSF is using the fall semester as a trial basis to test out the new hours. At the end of the semester, ASUSF will evaluate whether the hours have been adequately used to establish if the hours are worth keeping, said Nicole Beamer, operations manager in the Department of Public Safety.

Beamer said there has always been a need for longer hours, but with the funded resources now available by ASUSF, their partnership has made those hours possible.

“ASUSF made it a hot topic,” Beamer said, when former ASUSF president Alex Platt brought up the need for extended hours to Senate and the Department of Public Safety during the 2009 Spring semester. According to the April 21 ASUSF meeting, the idea to increase the service by only two hours on weekends was most “practical” and “effective,” based on the 110 survey responses that ASUSF received from students, in which most requested extended hours on weekends.

ASUSF estimated they would fund $22,000, which is a surplus in their budget, accounting for $17,164 in hourly compensation for drivers and the remaining sum for fuel. Although hourly compensation and fuel costs $29 an hour, drivers are paid $9 in overtime for the additional two hours served on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

But ASUSF had reservations about funding the extra hours because there were concerns of students under the influence using the shuttle. Prior to the changes, those students were not granted shuttle privileges, but now, Public Safety has made an exception. Intoxicated students are driven to their desired locations under the circumstance that drivers must call Public Safety. “We’re not going to deny students,” said Daniel L. Lawson, executive director of Public Safety. It is a relaxed policy, but proper university actions will be taken, he said. “It is a balance of safety and patience.”

Lawson said their only challenge is the availability of the shuttle. “Adding hours, there’s still a problem because of need and calls for service. We can estimate the calls, but if we get more than one to three calls at a time, people are told to please call back in 15 minutes,” he said, which delays all requests for the limited one shuttle van circulating the area. Lawson said any student could hit a bad timing in which the dispatch receives multiple calls, and delays are created not because of trying to be lax in their service, but because they are currently working on dropping other students off.

Other delays may be the result of priority given to students with disability, who make up an estimated 10 percent of the calls received. If three students are placed on a waiting list, and the fourth caller is a student with disabilities, the disabled student automatically moves up to first on the waiting list, Beamer said. Public Safety has an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) shuttle that operates in the daytime, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday, which only provides transportation to students with disabilities.

The day shuttle is a matter of convenience, Beamer said, but the night shuttle is a combination of convenience and safety.

“It’s a good thing, especially for those students that live off campus,” said junior Alexandra Garcia. “But I think that if it’s not publicized, students will not even know about the extended hours.”

The shuttle will keep the same 6-block radius that limits drops-offs and pick-ups beyond the boundaries of California Street, Divisadero Street, Fell St. and Sixth Avenue. Beamer said the limitations are for insurance purposes.  Only two vehicles rotate shifts, one in the day and the other at night.

But Lawson said that just because the shuttle service ends at 3 a.m., it “doesn’t suggest that we don’t provide a safety escort.” During the hours that the shuttle is not in service, students can call Public Safety for a safety escort. A minimum of two officers and two cars are working at all hours of the day, but Lawson said if they get busy, delays will occur, particularly in emergency situations in which a student has to be taken to the hospital, for example. “Those are our weaknesses,” Lawson said.

Gender Center Provides Safe Space for Sex Discussion

Foghorn Archives  The GSWRC was opened after several incidents of sexual violence were reported on USF campus last spring, launching a student movement against sexual violence, including this Take Back the Night march, lead by Jenna Recupero, Jenny Reed, and Erika Carlsen.

Foghorn Archives The GSWRC was opened after several incidents of sexual violence were reported on USF campus last spring, launching a student movement against sexual violence, including this Take Back the Night march, lead by Jenna Recupero, Jenny Reed, and Erika Carlsen.

In one of the most heavily-trafficked parts of USF campus, next to the Market Cafe in the University Center, the new Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Resource Center (GSWRC) has opened its doors. The resource center is the brainchild of a group of students and administrators in response to several incidents of sexual violence reported last semester (for more information see “Caskey” on page 3).

Senior Samantha Sheppard-Gonzales saw the center take shape from the beginning as the co-director of the club Students Taking Action Against Sexual Violence (STAASV)

When these concerned students started meeting to address the issue of sexual violence on campus, they broke into specific action-oriented committees. Sheppard-Gonzales’ committee was focused on the need for a resource center on campus, a safe and inclusive space.

“The hardest part was convincing the administration that it was really necessary,” Sheppard-Gonzales said. With the support of Dean of Students Mary Wardell, the center was approved and open by summer. “It was nice to see student action lead to such tangible results so quickly,” Sheppard-Gonzales said.

The GSWRC is a multipurpose facility according to Megan Gallagher, assistant director of Health Promotion Services, who helps oversee the center. “We want to bring together the themes of gender and sexuality issues, working on prevention [of sexual violence] and guidance and referrals [for victims].”

To reach these goals, the center provides a library of thought-provoking literature and DVDs, fiction and non-fiction, about gender and sexuality issues, all of which can be checked out at no charge. There is also a wealth of information compiled by graduate students in the School of Nursing advising young people what to do if they are in an abusive relationship or have been sexually assaulted.

Graduate nursing students are the staff that keeps the GSWRC going. Joellyn Morris, one such staff member who has been working in the center since June, said the center can help people establish healthy relationships, can educate people how to prevent sexual assault, and can provide support for survivors of sexual assault.

Most importantly, she said, “It is nice to see a safe space on campus for women, and for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community.”

The center is not limited to just those groups though. “It’s for everyone, men and women,” Morris said. After all, “Issues having to do with women have to do with men too.”

In the upcoming semester the GSWRC plans to host events such as film screenings, guest lecturers and self-defense classes. The center will also be the meeting space of the STAASV club, and Sheppard-Gonzales hopes it can be a place for everyone to gather information and even just hang out.

Freshman Stephanie Bruguera had already visited the center by the first week of classes. Relaxing on a comfortable couch, a rainbow-colored mural brightening the wall behind her, she perused the library of reading material and movies.

Not necessarily expecting to see a gender resource center on campus when she chose to attend this University, she said, “I was really happy to see this.” Gender issues interest Bruguera; she is considering adding a minor in gender and sexuality studies to her biology major. Of the center, she said, “I will for sure be coming back.”

The GSWRC in UC 200 is open from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday through Friday with evening hours from 5 – 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Crossroads New Later Hours Popular, Unruly

Strictly by the numbers, Crossroads’ new extended hours on Thursday and Friday nights until 2:30 a.m. have been incredibly successful. The new hours are wildly popular with students, and the late night shift is the third busiest time of day at the café, after the lunch and dinner rushes, said Crossroads General Manager and senior Hailey Anderson. And it has also been profitable for Bon Appétit.

On its first evening of extended hours, Crossroads processed 250 transactions and half of the seats in the café were occupied at any given time, Anderson said.

However, many of the students who patronize Crossroads during the extended hours are less than perfect customers and many are intoxicated, she said. Anderson has witnessed many more students than usual trying to steal pizza, which is the only station open late at night, leaving excessive amounts of trash at their tables and refusing to leave when the café closes. Students have also been fighting in the café and vandalizing artwork in the hallway outside when they do leave.

Anderson said that since the café began operating on the new trial schedule the Thursday following spring break, there have been multiple occasions when groups of intoxicated students have ignored staff who asked them to leave. At least one group demanded 20 more minutes when told to leave because the café was closing.

The final version of the ASUSF Senate resolution that created the extended hours at Crossroads required that public safety make rounds through the café once every hour and at the 2:30 a.m. closing time. However, public safety has been “very inconsistent” and did not do any rounds through the café on at least two of the nights with extended hours, according to Anderson.

Despite a huge uptick in business and the profitability of the trial, Anderson has questioned the practicality of the new hours, mostly in light of student behavior at the café and safety concerns for her staff. At one point earlier this week she thought her superiors at Bon Appétit might be ready to call off the new hours, but have so far decided to continue with the trial.

“I understand students want a place to go late at night to get food but I don’t want my employees to have to serve drunk and rowdy USF students,” she said.

Safety for workers in the café was a major concern of Crossroads management as they worked with senate on a plan to offer the extended hours. Sophomore Class Representatives Lansen Leu and Patrick Sudlow, who introduced the resolution, worked closely with Anderson and Bon Appétit General Manager Holly Winslow to ensure that Crossroads workers had a way to get home safely and installed swipe access outside of the Parina Lounge handicapped door so that all students could get into the café during its extended hours when all of the other outer doors to the University Center are locked.

Despite issues with safety and student conduct during the late night hours, the new schedule has received positive feedback from students, particularly those who live on campus and have Flexi.

Freshman Mike Needham, who said he usually gets hungry after 11:30 p.m. when Crossroads would normally close, has been to the café several times since it started offering extended hours of service. “Friday night is when I would usually go to Mel’s or order food and it is nice to be able to charge food on my Flexi instead,” he said.

Leu is happy that he was able to work to fill what he saw as a serious void on the USF campus by offering late night dining. “We just wanted to fill that demand from students who can use their Flexi to pay for food,” he said. However, he is concerned that some intoxicated students may be ruining the experience for others. “If people want it they should be respectful of the space,” he said.

Whatever the outcome of the trial period, Anderson said she doubts the extended hours will continue next year because Bon Appétit plans to convert Jamba Juice into a 24-hour café where students can get a wide variety of food.

Crossroads’ extended hours trial period is set to end the week before final exams start.

New SMS Emergency Text Service

SMS text alerts

Students this week received the first SMS text alert to test the new alert system (Melissa Stihl | Foghorn)

Students received at least one e-mail from the university in the past weeks informing them of changes to USF’s emergency alert system. With luck, many of them also received a text-message from the university yesterday and will receive yet another one tomorrow, with the purpose of testing this new SMS (short messaging service) based system, which allows the Department of Public Safety to send out prompt text-message warnings to students in the event of an emergency.

“We’re looking forward to this,” said Director of Public Safety Dan Lawson of the upcoming changes to the emergency notification process. “It will be the final piece that will give us the most comprehensive system of any university around in notifying the public in the event of an emergency.”

The procedure is simple: as soon a state of emergency has been determined, said ITS project manager Aouie Remigio, Public Safety will send out text messages to all the students whose cell phone numbers are in USF’s Banner database; these messages will be brief, containing only a short warning of the emergency and a link to USF’s emergency web page, which students can go to for more information.

While most USF students have unlimited text messaging plans, others have to pay a small fee for every message, and, Lawson said, might not want to be included in the emergency notification.

“We’ve found that the best way to accomplish this, to reach the most people, is to have an opt-out program,” said Lawson. This means that students whose phone numbers are in the university’s database will be automatically included in the program, but that they can choose to opt out.

Lawson estimated that “probably 80-90 percent of most universities use an opt-in program instead,” a system where people in the community are advised by email that they can sign up for emergency text notification by going to a certain link and registering. “However,” he said, “we found that at best you get maybe 20-30 percent, whereas in an opt-out program you can get much higher percentage numbers.”

There are around 10 or 11 specific emergency situations, Lawson said, that would require the sending of warning text-messages. These include such circumstances as a shooter on campus (in which case the message would tell students the approximate location of the shooter, as well as instruct them to take cover or stay off campus), earthquakes, gas leaks, fires, windstorms, terrorist acts, and explosions.

“We only plan to use this in the event of an emergency, which means hopefully we never have to use it, but we will be testing it two to three times a year, so people should expect to receive a text message from us,” Lawson said.

This new project, a collaboration between Public Safety and ITS, is still underway, and there are a few snags to be worked out and decisions to be made—for example, the service that will provide the texts remains to be chosen.

One concern with this new program, Lawson said, is “traffic congestion. When you put out a mass notification to more than a handful of people, you get into the hundreds or thousands, the information system network can only handle so many at a time.”

Another concern is that people will tend to ignore to the text messages sent by the university. However, “I think they will [read them],” said Remigio.

The testing of this system will shed light on both of these issues. Right now, Remigio said, two possible services are being considered: Jyngle, whose services are free, and Blackboard Connect, which charges for the notifications sent. A test text-message was sent using the Blackboard service on Mar. 31, and a message will be sent using Jyngle on Apr. 2. Along with these messages will come a link to a brief online survey. Hopefully, Lawson said, students will give feedback on when they received the message and whether there was a delay, so as to help the university choose the most effective system.

“We want to find the best system at the least cost,” said Lawson. “Obviously we’d rather choose the free one if it has the same effect, but when we ask people in the survey…we can get an idea of the traffic flow at that time in the system.”

Even with the program’s shortcomings, Remigio said, the emergency SMS system will be a significant improvement on the existent emergency warning procedures. These consist of an outdoor warning siren system, which is a collaborative effort with the city of San Francisco; the “e-mail blast”, which is the sending of a notification email to every Donsmail-user; and a text-message sent to “key players” in the university, such as the president and the Emergency Operations Center, said Lawson.

“I don’t consider the implementation of a text-messaging emergency notification as a standalone service,” said Remigio. “Text-messaging won’t get everyone, but we can cast a wider net with text messaging knowing that it is used in conjunction with the other systems.”

Supervisor Mar Listens to Student Concerns about Pedestrian Safety

polssocweb

ASUSF President Alex Platt (left of Mar), Hannah Linkenhoker (right of Mar) and members of the USF Politics Society question District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar (center) about various safety issues around the USF campus, including cars speeding on Turk St. and failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks between Lone Mountain and main campus. (Chelsea Sterling|Foghorn)

At a mid-semester USF Politics Society meeting, newly elected District 1 (which includes the USF campus and the Richmond district) Supervisor Eric Mar spoke to Politics Society members and other students about his first impressions of the job. He also participated in a question-and-answer session, in which students could present their concerns directly to their supervisor. Though Mar promised to represent USF students and the Politics Society’s main concerns- pedestrian safety on Turk Street and extension of the 5 Fulton bus service after 7 p.m.- to the board of supervisors, some students left the meeting unclear of what Mar is hoping to accomplish in District 1.

Kasie Favazza, a junior politics major , said, “I think he was here to listen to us. I didn’t leave knowing his top three priorities.” Favazza has been a Politics Society member since the spring of 2008. She appreciated Mar’s accessibility and his attendance at the meeting, but mentioned that when she tried to research Mar and his campaign, his web site was outdated.

Like several other Politics Society members, Favazza voiced her concern for pedestrian safety for students crossing between main campus and the Lone Mountain campus. The primary concern was Turk St., which currently has crosswalks, but where many drivers speed by without letting students cross. In addition, the traffic light on Turk St. and Chabot St. becomes a flashing yellow yield light after a certain hour. Hannah Linkenhoker, Public Relations Officer of the Politics Society, said of this busy intersection, “It’s problematic every day.” In response to this, Mar said, “It’s a give and take between those who want to drive and those who want public safety.” He also mentioned that neighborhood coalition groups like Fix Masonic and Walk SF could also be an outlet and forum for addressing troubled intersections. Mar acknowledged that getting issues like pedestrian safety addressed can be challenging. He said, “It’s the people who can raise their voice the loudest” that get their issues addressed.

Politics Society president and senior politics major Megan Hanley raised a second issue about safety. She asked Mar if the 5 Fulton bus service could be extended five or six stops after 6 p.m. The 5 Fulton currently drops its passengers off at Market and McAllister streets after 6 p.m. This area borders the seedy Tenderloin neighborhood. Hanley was concerned that not only were students and other passengers being dropped off in this area at night, but that younger, freshmen students may not be aware that it will drop them off before reaching Powell St. and lower Market St. Mar did not seem to be aware of this issue and said, “I will definitely bring this to them [Board of Supervisors.] This is really helpful to me.”

Mar is working on the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP), which is designed to collect suggestions about improving transit and put them into action. He supports the rail systems, officially known as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), that are being built on Geary Ave. and Van Ness St. Federal and state funds are being used to build these rail lines down two of San Francisco’s busiest streets. Critics say that a BRT system for Geary Ave. will slow down the 38 Geary bus service and street traffic. Mar believes the benefits will out outweigh the traffic the rail may cause. He said that, personally, “I would like a rail system.”

Junior business major Jon Coon asked Mar if he supported the legalization of marijuana, which was part of his campaign platform. Mar replied that he does support District 13 Supervisor Tom Ammiano’s amendment to the existing marijuana laws. Ammiano’s proposal, the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act, would legalize recreational marijuana use to persons over 21 years old. Mar said, “I support the decriminalization of certain types of drug use.” In the same breath, he said that he also advocates for drug and alcohol rehabilitation services and programs, which seek to limit and prevent drug and alcohol addictions. Mar also said, “I think the decriminalization of some substances helps human rights.”

When sharing his first impressions of his new job, Mar said, “Being a supervisor is very difficult.” He has an eight-year-old daughter, with whom he likes to watch graphic novel movies. Balancing his back to back meetings with spending time with his daughter is one of the most challenging aspects of his new job. In addition to adjusting to his busy schedule, Mar said balancing the $6.5 billion budget is “an overwhelming responsibility.”

Junior politics major Paul Tardiff said that Mar addressed the issues Tardiff cared about, but, he said, “I don’t feel like he fully clarified what he meant.” Tardiff, a Los Angeles native, is concerned about gang activity. “San Francisco, because it is more compact, is more dangerous than Los Angeles,” he said. “The city has a responsibility to deal with gangs.” Tardiff was concerned that the San Francisco city government was pushing the responsibility of monitoring gang activity and addressing gang issues onto non-government organizations (NGOs). Mar said that he regularly checks in with Police Chief Heather Fong and tries to address her concerns about crime in San Francisco.

At the close of the meeting, Mar thanked the Politics Society for inviting him to speak. “Your ideas should drive decision-making,” he said to the 13 Politics Society members and other students. “I hope you see as a value, community-based leadership.”

Bad Driving Leads to Risky Crossing

Everyday at USF I feel like I’m risking my life. Not by trying the new mystery meat special at the Caf or walking through the Tenderloin, but by crossing the street at Turk and Roslyn Terrace. No matter what time of day, I am terrified that a car may choose not to stop, and sometimes they don’t. The law says that if there is someone standing in the crosswalk, the car must stop and allow them to cross. I guess people in San Francisco are too busy with their own lives and would rather end another than be late for whatever it is that is so important.

There have been countless times that I have tried to cross the street and had to stop in the middle of the road to avoid a car speeding through the crosswalk giving me the stink-eye. I was in the crosswalk and had the right of way. There should be some sort of pedestrian horn I can honk. Maybe I should wear a brightly colored sign that says, “Don’t hit me. I’m a pedestrian student trying to get to my class.”

Sometimes the disregard for traffic laws does not stop at just speeding through the crosswalk. There is the inappropriate hand gesture that is shot out the window, the occasional yell out the window: “Hey! What are you doing in the road?”, or the drive by hit-on that is usually followed by that sleazy whistle. But my favorite was when I was trying to cross the street to get to my morning Spanish class and one side of the street stopped for me to cross, so I proceeded to cross the street with the usual fear that comes over me. Just before I could get to the other side safely on the sidewalk, a car speeds through the crosswalk, almost hitting me, and then stops. The female driver then rolls down her window and yells, “What the (insert your choice of profanity here) is your problem? People are trying to drive, get out of the (choose again) street!”

Why are drivers on Turk so hostile towards USF students trying to get to class? I thought it was bad last year just crossing that death trap maybe six times a week. But now, living in Loyola Village, that crosswalk is the one I use when leaving my residence to try to get to main campus and also the route I take to get home every day. I cross Turk at least 2-4 times per day.

I know the obvious solution is to walk down a block to where the crosswalk has a light, but why should I have to inconvenience myself to appease these selfish and reckless drivers?

Either there should be a big neon sign that says pedestrians crossing or there should be a light at that crosswalk so that students can get to and from class safely. Most students cross at Turk and Roselyn Terrace. They shouldn’t have to fear for their lives when doing so.

Erika Heyer is a junior politics major.