Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
Following what seemed to be an endless string of armed robberies in the campus area, one concerned organization, the Parents Advancement Council, made a donation to improve the Student Safety Service program.
Ohio State’s Student Safety Service received $50,000 to upgrade its arsenal of escort vehicles. As a result, Student Safety Service purchased two Subaru Foresters, making the total number of vehicles six.
Student Safety Service, a branch of the Ohio State Police, provides students with free escort services in the evenings, performs security checks of campus buildings and provides security for special events around campus.
Their fleet of vehicles, which consists of two minivans from the early to mid-2000s, two Subaru Foresters paid for with Undergraduate Student Government funds in 2011 and now the two new Foresters.
Sean Bolender, coordinator of Student Safety Services, said the need for these vehicles came up as a result of the increase in crime alerts that were released via email throughout Fall Quarter.
“Emails sent out about crime alerts mentioned Student Safety Service,” Bolender said. “After this, there was an increase in demand for the program.”
Bolender and his staff reached out to the Parents Advancement Council in September about the need for additional support to keep up with the demand for escorts around campus at night.
“Parents wanted to directly help the students,” Bolender said. “This was a great opportunity for them to do that.”
After receiving $50,000 from the Parents Advancement Council, Bolender said the goal was to get a deal done quickly in order to get these new vehicles on the road. After shopping around with quotes from back when the USG deal took place, Student Safety Service was able to purchase the second pair of Subaru Foresters for about $20,000 each.
“We had to spend a little more because there was no option for grants, because of the speed the deal was done,” Bolender said. “We needed to get these safer vehicles on the road as soon as possible.”
Student Safety Service opted to go with the Foresters instead of the minivans, because Bolender said the Foresters were more suited for their needs.
“The new vehicles have quickened up the process of escorting now that the vehicles are safer to drive,” Bolender said.
Berit Voldnes, a fourth-year in criminology and psychology, is the senior manager at Student Safety Service. She said she thinks the new Subarus with all-wheel drive and more traction control are much better to drive compared to the old vans, specifically in the slippery winter conditions.
“I’m not used to driving in snow, so the new Subarus make me feel more confident in my driving,” Voldnes said.
The only complaint Student Safety Service has received about the new Subarus is that they only seat three passengers, as opposed to five in the minivans. Bolender explained the organization’s policy allows for fewer passengers in the new vehicles.
“We consider any group of four or more people a safe walking group,” Bolender said.
Bolender said the average ride consists of 1.4 people. So the decreased seating arrangements in the new vehicles haven’t proved to be a major issue.
Sean Oatman, a third-year in civil engineering, said he believes using the monetary donations for new vehicles is a good idea. However, he would disagree with the purchases if OSU had directly paid for the cars.
“I wouldn’t be happy if the university was spending money on cars,” Oatman said. “Things would be safer if the university spent more money on police presence, specifically east of High Street.”
Attempts to reach the Parent’s Advancement Council by The Lantern were unsuccessful.