S.A.F.E. Team to the rescue

The S.A.F.E team is now active on Florida A&M University’s campus for the first time this year, as of Sunday. The organization, which provides an escort service for students walking from dormitories, the library or the parking garage, didn’t receive funding from the Student Government Association during the 2006-2007 school year.

“The A&S [activities and service] fees and [the] budget committee determined the S.A.F.E team could not function in the capacity for which we could fund them,” said Senate President Mellori Lumpkin, 20, a junior business administration student from Bainbridge, Ga.

This year the S.A.F.E team was included in the A&S budget but has not been active until now. But Lumpkin said she didn’t understand why they hadn’t been up and running yet.

“The money is there but they weren’t functioning for whatever reason,” Lumpkin said. “The hold ups did not have anything to do with SGA. The hold up for the S.A.F.E Team was their OPS [other personnel services] contracts.

The S.A.F.E team’s director, Antoinette Abington, 21, a junior Spanish language student from Arkansas City, Kan., explained the process for contracts.

“[FAMU’s] police department does our contracts for the S.A.F.E team,” Abington said. “After the contracts are written, the police department forwards the contracts to the University Presidents Office where Dr. Ammons has to sign the contract.”

The student escort service will be operating Sunday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“We start out at campus housing areas and the library and move on from there,” Abington said. “Three people are on patrol each night and one dispatches from the police department.”

Although the organization is being funded, they are still short on resources.

“We received $15,000 from SGA to go towards staff salaries for the ten paid positions for the fall, spring and summer semesters and $199 to go toward T-shirts,” Abington said. “There are still some materials that we need. We have three flashlights and we are hoping they have [some] at the police department [and] can provide 10 more.”

As of now, the organization has six radios and seven umbrellas. But Abington said they are still in need of four more radios, three more umbrellas and money to print posters and flyers.

“We have one golf cart as of now, [but] we are suppose[d] to have three,” Abington said. “We are also able to use three golf carts from FAMUPD that don’t have FAMU PD printed on them, but the physical plant has denied us access to their golf carts.”

Freshman senator and A&S Chairperson, Velencia Witherspoon, 18, said the senate is attempting to come up with more funding for the organization.

“We are working on allocating more funds for the flashlights, the radios and the umbrellas and other things that they want this year to help them improve their operations,” said the chemical engineering student from Jacksonville.

Ericka L. Cole, 22, a second year graduate public administration student from Orlando, said she is happy the S.A.F.E team is back on campus.

“In undergrad at FAMU I had the pleasure of experiencing the contributions of the S.A.F.E team first hand. They have escorted me back to my dorm on various occasions following late night and early morning study sessions,” Cole said. Students in need of an escort may call 599-3256 for the S.A.F.E team dispatch.

Those interested in volunteering for the S.A.F.E team can e-mail famusafeteam@hotmail.com.