The Students’ Union initiative Safe Spaces is set to be launched at the end of September, as a part of an overall safety campaign to be run on campus. The scheme involves having ‘safe spaces’ in the city centre where students can call taxis and wait for them at any time during the day or night. Garda stations will initially serve as the safe spaces in question.
Safe Spaces has backing from the UCD Health Promotions Committee as well as the Gardaí. It will be tried as a pilot scheme in UCD before “being rolled out nationally”, according to UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Rachel Breslin.
“I would certainly look at launching it in Garda stations at the end of September and using that to get a bit of publicity there and then going with the Gardaí and UCD as a joint proposal, to chambers of commerce and to individual businesses.”
Also running as part of the night-out aspect of the campaign will be Slán Abhaile. This is a scheme whereby students can get a taxi home and pay the fare at a later date.
A student’s details, including student number and phone number, would be registered in a system set up for the scheme. Once a student rings Wini-cabs, the taxi company through which the system is being run, they receive a text with a code, which is recorded by the driver. This allows the fare to be charged to the account that the SU have with the taxi company, in the student’s name. The student can then pay the fare at some stage during the next seven days, although the exact deadline is still being decided.
Breslin explains that she approached Wini-cabs as they were established “on the whole ethos of being safe – so they get a lot more of the personal details of the taxi drivers than other companies.”
The campus campaign has several elements to it according to Breslin; “it’s kind of an overall safety campaign – it wasn’t really done in UCD before and there are several aspects to it: there’s the night-out aspect, the daytime aspect and the actual on-campus aspect.”
“I spoke to the Health Promotions Committee about the possibility of setting up stations on campus with phones where you can call someone 24 hours, which they are looking into at the moment” continues Breslin.
“I want to run an information campaign – really just a ‘protect yourself’ campaign where you look after your personal belongings, to be vigilant, to report any incidents with [a lack of] lighting and a lack of security in a busy point; the other aspect of that is on personal belongings, because higher instances of theft were reported to the Welfare Officer last year. Looking after your belongings, looking after yourself,” she concludes.
Students can sign up to the scheme during Freshers’ Week.