The Students Available for Escort Team is back.
The S.A.F.E Team, which was intended to ensure student safety by accompanying students to their on-campus residences or vehicles, was originally fully-funded by the senate during the 2005-2006 school term.
However, for the 2006-2007 school year, the S.A.F.E Team did not receive funding because the activities and service budget committee was not able to provide the $60,000 requested to support the program.
This year the organization’s budget has been restored to $15,199 from a previous balance of zero.
In order to accommodate the amount they were allotted, the S.A.F.E. Team downsized their staff and now has plans to find other ways for extra funding.
After fundraising at Saturday’s football game, the organization was only able to raise about $40. However, Abington said they will begin writing letters to various local businesses as a means of accruing monies.
“We’re doing outside fundraising…we don’t have a target amount as of now because it all just depends on how much we can collect at one time,” said Antoinette Abington, director of the S.A.F.E. team. “The senate gave us $15,000 for staffing, so that’s $7500 each semester and [an additional] $200 for T-shirts.”
Three S.A.F.E. Team employees will be out every night and one person will work dispatch. Abington said according to their advisor at the police station five or ten flashlights, a weather radio and reflective vests are needed.
As of now they only have five non-reflective jackets in random sizes and a few umbrellas. Abington added that the organization had not been appropriated funds for a phone line.
“If a phone is provided, the police station will have to pay for it,” Abington said.
Although the deadline for submitting applications for the S.A.F.E. Team ended Friday, volunteers are still needed.
“We are still looking for volunteers, [because] that will only maximize the service we can provide,” Abington said.
Despite the group’s funding woes, Abington said students are giving positive reactions about the safe team coming back.
With the eminent return of the S.A.F.E Team, some students and staff members seem to be awaiting their comeback and insist they are needed.
“Once the S.A.F.E Team went away, more crime happened on campus,” said Kevin Mckenzie, 20, a junior biology student from Orlando. “My mentee was robbed by the Alpha House at gun point one night.”
Patrice Fountain, 20, a junior nursing student from Pensacola said she felt safer when the S.A.F.E Team was here because she had a safer way home when she decided to stay at the library to study late at night.
Students who don’t use the service also consider the service to be an essential feature.
“Even though I may not use the escort service, I think the S.A.F.E Team is a great program that’s coming back,” said Jarveal Baker, 20, a junior accounting student from Winter Haven. “It will definitely help ensure safety.”
Members from FAMU’s police department said they feel the program is necessary.
Corpral Sherri Luke, a FAMU police department employee agrees with the students about the necessity of the S.A.F.E. team’s presence on campus.
“This is a much needed organization for students walking at night,” Luke said.
Once applications have been reviewed and the staff has been hired, the organization will begin working from Sunday to Thursday from 9pm – 2 am.
The S.A.F.E Team’s services are set to resume as soon as the university finishes the necessary paperwork.
For those interested in making donations to the S.A.F.E. Team, please contact Antoinette Abington by email at FAMUSafeTeam@hotmail.com.
Also, any students interested in volunteering with the S.A.F.E Team, send an e-mail with all contact information included to aforementioned address.