As school shootings continue to be a hot-button topic in the United States, students at St. Cloud State University want to know about different ways they can be safe on campus. Public Safety in conjunction with University Communications collaborated to create the Safe@St.Cloud app as a way to ensure that students, staff and faculty are secure. Anyone can find the app for download and it’s available for both iOS and Android devices.
The app has a variety of features for safety, but there are two in particular that stand out to Kevin Whitlock, the director of public safety.
“There are a couple of features that I personally like that this app offers and one of them is called the ‘Friend Walk.’ What that basically means is that you can tap on the app and you can send your friend an email or text message and tell them what you’re about to do. And that friend gets the information on their phone with a GPS link showing [them] exactly where you are” Whitlock said.
With this feature, a friend or family member can find the location of anyone they are watching to make sure the person is out of harm’s way and making it safely to their destination.
The second feature Whitlock highlights is called the “I’m OK!” function.
“Say we have a major storm emergency and it has a major effect on the campus. You can tell a friend by tapping on this application that you are okay” Whitlock said.
Whitlock mentioned even though this app is very versatile, it’s in no way meant to replace star alert emergency notification. Instead, the app is for daily-use by students, staff and faculty to add to more individual security.
“For anything that happens as an emergency on campus, our official notification is the star alert. This app is supplementary to that. The official information will still go out on star alert University Communication is working on the ability to have it also go on this new app,” Whitlock said.
Sophomore Hissamudin Shaikh, an engineering student, said the app can foster in the prevention of criminal activity, but when it comes to school shootings, he said more needs to be done.
“That has to come from just being more aware of the people around you and actually looking at them and caring for them,” Shaikh said.
He thinks this app is useful in the sense that he would know that someone that he might share his location with, would know his current location or where he is going.
“For example, if tomorrow I don’t turn up my friend can actually acknowledge that ‘oh he was walking from his car to here at this time I saw the notification I got the message about it and the fact that maybe something happened after that or something happened during it, I don’t know, so it’s kind of more information is there for the officials to use to find you and find out what’s happened to you,” Shaikh said.
Sophomore Madina Kartkozhakova, majoring in information systems thinks this app is great, especially for walking home alone at night.
“It is helpful if you see someone suspicious around you at night, for example, if you are walking, then it’s a good app,” Kartkozhakova said.
In general, both Shaikh and Kartkozhakova feel that SCSU campus and the surrounding areas are for the most part very safe and that the police are very good in responding to criminal activity immediately.
Sarv Mithaqiyan (a.k.a. Sodid Misaghian) is a Baha’i, journalist, philosopher and runs a YouTube channel entitled Elevated & Meaningful. He’s a news reporter for UTVS and currently getting his Master’s in Strategic Mass Communication at SCSU. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Minor in Religious Studies from UC Davis. Follow him on twitter @SarvMithaq