Peers helping peers
October 31, 2018
Since 1989, the Western Foot Patrol has assisted in keeping our campuses a safe place to study, work and live. This free, volunteer-driven service offers escorts to students, staff, faculty, and visitors to all destinations on main and affiliate campuses, along with some off-campus locations.
The Western Foot Patrol operates on the main campus, as well at Huron, Brescia and here at King’s. Samantha Johnstone, Manager of the Western Foot Patrol, says the program has good representation from all campuses, including student and staff involvement at King’s.
One such King’s student who is involved is Adam Stoneburgh. He is an Honours double major in Criminology and Sociology, now in his second year as a part of the Western Foot Patrol. He says the Patrol “gives King’s students travelling between Western and King’s a resource that promotes safety. Whether it be having a walking team to provide safety in numbers or the SUV providing a drive between campuses, Western Foot Patrol helps King’s students.”
The Western Foot Patrol began in 1989 when “the University recognized a need,” Johnstone explains, after a series of incidents on Western’s campus. The program began with one SUV van and has evolved to the walking teams in use today.
The Patrol’s mission is “to raise awareness of personal safety issues, deter crime through visible patrols and to provide safe escorts to community members.”
In addition to escorting students from one location to another, teams also patrol campuses, keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity, which they report to campus police. “There’s something about the visibility (of the teams) that provides a sense of comfort,” Johnstone says. She notes the visibility of the Western Foot Patrol often acts as a deterrent to crimes of all types.
Those who have used the Western Foot Patrol are always “super grateful,” Johnstone says. “Students always thank (the members of the Western Foot Patrol) profusely,” she adds.
Johnstone says having students involved “adds a lot of credibility” to the program. “Students feel comfortable seeing other students involved. It is peers helping peers. It shows students that their fellow students are concerned about their safety,” she adds.
The Western Foot Patrol has 250 volunteers. Students, staff and faculty can apply to volunteer. There is a screening process to become a volunteer that includes an application, interview, reference check and police check, and then each volunteer must attend training.
“Everyone has a different motivation for volunteering,” Johnstone says. “Some are looking to gain experience for professional schools. Some volunteer out of a desire to make the campus a safer place to live and study. Some volunteer due to a personal experience. Some just like the exercise and being outside.”
Stoneburgh says he joined the Patrol as a way to become involved with the King’s community after transferring from the University of Ottawa.
“Every volunteer is just happy to be making a difference in someone’s evening,” Johnstone adds.
For more information, visit https://www.uwo.ca/footpatrol/