The same day campus officials held a town hall meeting to discuss safety at Auraria, two students were assaulted a block away from campus.
There have been five reported assaults on and near Auraria since Feb. 16; seven students have been assaulted and robbed. Two students were hospitalized after they were stabbed March 8 at the Inn At Auraria. One student was knocked unconscious in the parking lot at Campus Village, and the two students assaulted March 10 at the Shell Station on Colfax Ave. were beaten with brass knuckles. Neither was seriously injured.
Campus police have urged students and community members to increase their awareness of their surroundings at all times, and utilize the services available to them on campus. One service the police recommended Aurarians utilize, especially during late hours on campus, is the Night Rider.
Charlis Tharp attended the campus safety meeting March 10 because her daughter is a freshman at Auraria.
She said her daughter called the Night Rider March 8 for a ride after hearing about the assaults on and around campus.
“She had never expressed a concern about her safety on campus before,” Tharp said. “But when you are young you feel 19 feet tall and bulletproof.”
Tharp said her daughter had made an appointment for the service earlier in the day. But when it came time for her pickup, the van was nowhere to be found. Tharp’s daughter waited for approximately 15 minutes before deciding to leave and catch the light rail.
Mark Gallagher, director of parking and transportation services for Auraria, said the Night Rider service usually responds to a call within 10 minutes, and reliability of the service is the real key for Aurarians.
“If the driver does not show up in the quoted time, get on the phone and call us again. If we have to, we will call for another vehicle,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher said the drivers are in constant communication with the dispatch service and he said he believes riders being left behind is not a common problem.
“Occasionally we will have confusion over a pickup location. In that case, it comes down to bad communication between dispatch and the driver,” Gallagher said.
There are three vans in operation, which are rented from the state. Gallagher said he has not broken the cost of operating the program out of the main parking and transportation budget, but he estimates it to be around $20,000. Most of that is to pay for the hourly-student employees salary.
Mike Matulonis, transportation manager at Auraria, has worked for the campus for more than 10 years.
He said he has not seen an increase in demand for the Night Rider service since the reported assaults on campus. In a given week, the Night Rider gives about 50 to 60 rides a day. Spikes in demand usually are tied to inclement weather.
Matulonis said the service typically gives riders about five minutes to show up to their scheduled pickup location.
“If the rider takes the whole five minutes, it may stretch out the wait for another rider,” Matulonis said.
The vans often schedule a series of pickups on one route.
The service runs throughout campus, from building to building, or from a parking lot to a building.
“Basically, the service extends throughout the core campus and the buildings in LoDo affiliated with the campus,” Matulonis said.
Both Matulonis and Gallagher said occasionally exceptions to the on-campus drop offs are made, but usually to disabled students. From time to time, drivers will drop off students at the Market Street RTD Station, but that is an exception, not the rule.
There is no Night Rider Service available to the campus housing facilities. The campus housing communities offer shuttles to and from their locations.
The University of Colorado at Boulder also offers a free ride service to students on campus.
CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said the rider service at Boulder is funded by the Student Government, UCSU.
Hilliard said the student government has worked with a task force of college administrators to improve campus safety through audits and special projects.
“Safety on campus and student safety is a constant conversation,” Hilliard said.
Metro’s Student Government Assembly approved a resolution during the fall to allocate funds to conduct a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design audit. The CPTED audit has not been conducted yet, but SGA Vice President C.J. Garbo said the audit and initiative have the same priority now as they did three weeks ago.
The audit will look for areas on the campus that need improvement, such as increased lighting and trimming shrubs to increase visibility.