Safety Initiatives Available at Notre Dame

Author: Emma Koster

#Textmewhenyougethome began trending on social media channels in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder in London on March 3, 2021. Women took to public platforms to share stories of times they had felt unsafe with this powerful hashtag. Walking home at night is one of the many things that can cause fear and anxiety for women. 

The university offers a number of services that work to ensure a safe environment on campus and provide a feeling of security for any individual feeling uncomfortable, especially in those dark evening hours. SafeBouND is a service offered by the Notre Dame Police Department that provides free safety escorts around campus. Emergency Call Boxes can also be found around campus. The current map shows 65 phones dispersed around the perimeter of campus. 

Rob Martinez serves as the Captain of the Crime Prevention/Outreach/Safety department of the Notre Dame Police Department and is responsible for the SafeBouND Program. Celine Castillo is a Notre Dame senior who has been working for the SafeBouND initiative since her freshman year. Both Martinez and Castillo described a visible decline in usage in the past couple of years, citing both increasing numbers of rideshare usage and an increasing unfamilarity among students with this service itself. 

Martinez also said, “SafeBouND specifically, we only take on the perimeter of campus, that’s our boundaries. We won’t even take you across the street, we just don’t do that, that’s off campus basically.” However, it is often those side streets and roads on the edge of campus where students feel the most uncomfortable and unsafe. “My understanding, it’s just a liability piece,” Martinez said in response to the program’s limitations. 

The concern lies heavily with the university’s liability if someone were to be injured outside of the campus boundaries. Safety is the top concern for this initiative and those involved with SafeBouND do not want the program to become confused with rides of convenience. While being mindful and respectful of the liability issues and rules of the program she works for, Castillo said, “I can’t help but think we would have more users and fully meet the safety concerns if we did drive even to the farthest buildings at Flats or the farthest buildings at Row.” 

“They are mostly dispersed on the perimeter of campus as opposed to the inner perimeter of campus,” said Martinez about the Blue Light Emergency Call Boxes. The thought is that in the inner part of campus you would be able to enter a building or flag an individual down if you needed assistance. “Sometimes aesthetics count too,” Martinez said. When the issue was brought up to the safety unit within the past couple of years about the lack of call boxes on campus, facility staff verified lighting standards on campus to see if additional Blue Lights were required. 

“Text me when you get home” is a loaded statement, even in the casual nature it’s typically thrown out, the words hang heavy with an acknowledgement of fear and discomfort at being a woman walking alone at night. The University of Notre Dame is working to provide services that quell some of that fear but the limitations of these initiatives are still present.  About her experience providing safe passage around campus at night, Castillo said, “In the four years that I have worked, it has been mostly women. I believe my coworkers would say the same.”