Safewalk funding in trouble?

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Safewalk received next year's funding from the Students' Union on Tue., Jan. 21, but future funding from the university may be eliminated. Due to budget cuts announced in November, Safewalk funding from University of Calgary administration for the next academic year may face a 100 per cent cut.

"Right now, everything is tenuous," said Safewalk Coordinator Cameron May.

The Safewalk program, started in 1995 as a joint initiative among the Students' Union, university administration, and Campus Security, currently receives approximately $30,000 a year in funding from university administration and $5,500 from the Students' Union. Their current office at Campus Security may be eliminated next year because of the cuts.

"It's really irresponsible for the university administration to be doing this," said Assistant Safewalk coordinator Katie Cupello. "They're compromising security on this campus by cutting back on Campus Security and adding new buildings."

Students' Union Vice-President Operations and Finance Robbie White is concerned that a reduction of the Safewalk program may endanger students.

"I think eliminating Safewalk would be really unfortunate," he said. "Although it's not used by as many students as it should be, some students do use it daily."

The SU has proposed that Safewalk relocate to space in the new Volunteer Services office, but the space offers little privacy and would separate Safewalk from Campus Security, which takes calls from individuals requesting Safewalk assistance.

"We would lose our radios and no longer have a direct link to campus security," said May. "That's a liability and safety issue."

According to May, a reduction in Safewalk funding would reduce the number of Safewalkers and increase demand on Campus Security.

Safewalk currently attracts and retains volunteer safewalkers with a tuition credits of $20 per shift at a cost of approximately $17,000 per year. May fears that eliminating these credits would also reduce the number of safewalkers and the quality of service but the service will not disappear.

"Safewalk will not go away," he said. "The Students' Union will make it survive somehow, but it may not be as effective."

White hopes the university continues to fund Safewalk.

"If the university cuts all funding to Safewalk, that would cause a lot of difficulty," said White. "We hope to keep the program around, but with cuts, there's less chance of program expansions being able to start.

University officials would not comment on the matter on Wednesday.