Rape prompts University to expand shuttle service

| Contributing Reporter

Following the rape and robbery of a female undergraduate leaving campus, the University has expanded its door-to-door shuttle service for students living in off-campus housing.

Known as Campus2Home (C2H), the shuttle’s vans leave from Mallinckrodt Center and Brookings Drive every half-hour and take students directly to their residences off-campus rather than operating along a fixed route.

The University’s decision to expand the shuttle service was overshadowed on Monday by some students’ concerns that a reference to the Campus2Home program in the e-mail with the crime alert created the impression that the student raped early Monday morning was partially at fault for the attack.

Although the decision to expand Campus2Home was made at the same time that the University chose to send out a campus-wide alert, that e-mail did not include a reference to the expanded service.

Steve Givens, associate vice chancellor for public affairs, acknowledged that the decision to promote Campus2Home without mentioning the expansion was “a mistake,” but the additional coverage remains an important service to students.

“We included in the crime alert that Campus2Home was available; what we didn’t do is include that there was an expansion,” Givens said. “In the rush to get that statement out, it could have been worded better.”

Junior Danielle Wallis, co-president of the Committee Organized for Rape Education, stressed that references to the shuttle should not overwhelm the fact that the incident occurred because of choices made by the attacker, not the victim—a reality often overshadowed in mainstream understandings of sexual assault.

“It’s less an issue about how the crime alert was worded and more about how we read it,” she said. “There’s nothing blameful about what she did,” Wallis said.

Previously, the Campus2Home program was available only to students, faculty and staff living in neighborhoods north of campus—specifically University City and Skinker-DeBaliviere.

On Monday evening, shuttles began to serve neighborhoods south of campus, particularly the DeMun area where the assault occurred. The additional service is in direct response to that incident.

“We had a very tragic event,” Givens said, and that provided an impetus to reconsider how best to serve the needs of students.

“Something like this happens, and it’s good to reflect,” he said.

Campus2Home service is now available in the area between Forsyth Boulevard and Clayton Road, from Skinker to Big Bend, in addition to the neighborhoods north of campus that were previously available. In addition, after the robbery of two undergraduate students Wednesday morning on the Greenway Walkway just north of the campus overpass, the shuttle hours were extended from 7 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. seven days a week.

When the service first began in February, the University chose to focus its efforts on neighborhoods north of campus because of the concentration of students and University-owned off-campus property in the area.

Until now, the service has remained relatively unknown, operating far below its capacity. According to Steve Hoffner, associate vice chancellor for operations, approximately 20 students use the service each night and use has been approximately evenly divided between graduate and undergraduate students.

The service has the potential to serve up to 192 riders throughout each night—two 12 passenger vans make a total of 16 trips.

“[Ridership] is good, but we have capacity for lots more than that,” Givens said. “It’s great for students to learn that this is available and make use of it whether they are going north or south.”

Late Monday evening, the first night of expanded service, 43 individuals rode the shuttle, none traveling to the newly served area south of campus.

According to Hoffner, the yearly operating cost of the shuttle is $230,000, but even if ridership continues to lag behind capacity, the program will continue.

“My personal opinion is that now that we’ve started this program it’s going to be staying,” Hoffner said. “I don’t foresee at all that this won’t be available next fall.”

The service is scheduled to continue throughout the summer, though the University is currently conducting surveys that will determine whether a new set of summer hours will be developed.

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