Student Escort Service Promotes Campus Safety

By , Special to the Christian Science Monitor

WHILE the majority of the student body is preparing for final exams, Tim Burke will be spending most of tonight walking. Mr. Burke is one of 200 students employed by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Community Service Officer (CSO) program, which operates the campus escort service, a type of buddy system.

``We'll escort anyone, 365 days a year,'' says Burke, striding across UCLA's main quad. Escorts can be seen throughout the campus, easily identified by their royal blue and gold uniforms. Operating here free of charge from dusk to 1 a.m., the program eliminates the need for anyone to walk alone on or near campus.

``An escort system is the best way for any campus to start a security system,'' says Donna Capraro, assistant director of the UCLA program, which started in 1975 with seven volunteers. Today escorts, both male and female, accompany up to 200 people per night, according to Ms. Capraro. Students, faculty, or any visitor to campus may ask for the service.

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After calling the operator, Burke explains, a ``client'' usually has to wait about 10 to 15 minutes for the escort to arrive. Escorts are continually patrolling the campus and are dispatched via walky-talky through the same operator used by the campus police force. According to Capraro, this allows for ``immediate response,'' of both the CSO and the police officers, should the need arise.

Thanks to the escorts, says Capraro, ``help is only a voice call away.''

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