John Tolley, February 7, 2017
Sometime or another we have all needed a friend to walk us home, especially in college where a late-night cram session in the library can lead to even later cross-campus journey back to the dorm.
But, a friend isn't always readily available to serve as a companion. Ride-sharing apps like Uber can offer a safe alternative, but can be costly and don't always work within a campus. The dearth of alternatives got Rutgers University student Daniel Reji thinking.
"The same way you get an Uber, I thought, what if you could request two students to walk you home - judgment free, stigma free, actually free?" says Reji, speaking to Rutgers Today.
In the fall of 2016, Reji launched SafeHalo, an app that allows Rutgers students to request a pair of volunteer student companions - called Halos – to walk them from building to building. All that is required of the student requesting the walk is to provide their name and the color of their outfit so that they can be identified. They are then provided with the names and descriptions of their carefully-vetted team of Halos along with a unique confirmation code to ensure safety.
SafeHalo began with a test run over 14 Fridays on the New Brunswick campus. The student-run marketing team took to social media to spread information about the app to sororities and various other organizations. Due to overwhelming response, SafeHalo's coverage has expanded to five nights a week, Tuesday through Saturday.
Other schools are getting on board. Reji and SafeHalo co-director Jamie Farren are helping Boston's Emerson College and the University of Oregon recruit their own teams of Halo volunteers. It's all part of their vision for the future of campus safety, says Reji.
"This year is all about scaling. We've proven traction and viability at one school, but our main goal is to get into as many universities as possible, so we're working on a scalable business model and building an app platform that could make it easier for new schools to bring SafeHalo to their campuses."