Zero funding takes SAFE Team out of game

Students making their way around campus may notice the walk seems to be a little lonelier this semester, especially since the S.A.F.E. Team is no longer on patrol.

In previous semesters, the S.A.F.E. (Students Available for Escort) Team was available between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. to escort students to and from various destinations on campus.

During the spring 2006 semester, that all changed. “We have not received any money for 2006 through 2007,” said Derron Bennett, 24, a graduate business administration student from Stone Mountain, Ga.

“We’re waiting to hear back from the senate just in case there is a possibility that money will be available for us,” said Bennett, who serves as president of the organization.

An article published in the April 14 edition of The Famuan blamed the loss of funding lack of activities and service dollars due to falling student enrollment and money needed to fund the new recreation center.

Students who used the service are disappointed that it is no longer available.

“I thought it was a great concept. I loved the S.A.F.E. Team, especially when I would be at the library until two in the morning because FAMU (police department) is not the quickest thing in the world when you have an emergency,” said La Tin Dey Akamo Heart El, a junior biology student from Philadelphia.

Bennett said that if the S.A.F.E. Team is given money to operate this semester, they’ll be more than ready.

“Whenever they’re able to give us money, we’ll be more than willing to start up that week. We have most of the executive board, and most of the members are still around,” Bennett said. “When we can, we’ll start with a skeletal staff and build up a full staff later.”

But that reactivation could be far off.

“One of the reasons they weren’t funded was because there wasn’t a system of accountability,” said student body president Phillip Agnew.

Agnew, 21, a fourth-year business administration student from Chicago, said, “There was no way for us to see what they were doing. If we’re going to give them some more student dollars, there just has to be a system of accountability.”

Despite the inactive status of the group at the moment, Agnew quickly pointed out that the S.A.F.E. Team is not eliminated – just temporarily unavailable.

Bennett said the lack of a S.A.F.E. Team makes walking around campus at night more dangerous for students.

“I think the safety of students is compromised because at night, the only thing they have are the police. But they’re not going to go to the police unless something happens. With us, they come before something happens because they know it’s our sole purpose to escort people across campus,” Bennett said.

Akamo Heart El said she remembers the S.A.F.E. Team’s disappearance in the spring semester but didn’t realize how it affected her until a couple of weeks ago.

“My friends and I were at the library before we got our Internet set up, and we were walking back to my friend’s house. And I was like, ‘where is the S.A.F.E. Team?’ They were like, ‘they got cut.'”

Despite the funding cut, Bennett remains optimistic that the S.A.F.E. Team will return.

“We’re there for people to call us. We give people that sense of security they may not have while walking across campus at night.”