Do you really need an escort to find a party?

Most serious student reporters can say they’ve been on a ride-along with police officers. Considering I’m an aspiring fluffy arts writer, that’s something I’ve never done. This past Friday, however, I went on a ride-along with the Escort Service.

I have to be honest. I’m taking investigative journalism this quarter and I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the idea of being a little sleuth – mucking up dirt all over town. I thought if I went on a ride-along, I’d see all the ways in which the Escort Service was falling short; I thought I’d be able to point out a dozen ways it could improve. But after an hour and a half of cruising around Evanston in a Chevy Cavalier with escorts Sara Nelson and Heather Redding, I realized that the service is doing just fine – it’s Northwestern students’ attitudes that need changing.

A quick history lesson: The Escort Service that we now have began toting students around in the fall of 1998. Before that, the Naval ROTC provided a similar service for a short stint before the Office of Undergraduate Residential Life created walking teams. Then, the office bought a van but soon afterwards opted for the nifty white 4-door sedans currently in use. Escort Service’s goal? To transport NU students safely and in turn, prevent incidents like last week’s attacks.

That brings us to the service’s problem. Many students aren’t using Escort Service as a safety service; they’re using it as a free taxi ride whenever they don’t feel like hiking to The Keg in the cold. Sara, a senior and three-year escort, told me that 20 percent of their riders are heading to a bar or the movie theater. “You really shouldn’t depend on a university-funded service to go to the bar,” Sara said.

And she’s right. Especially if there are three of you. Maybe some of you will disagree, but I think walking in threes is safe. Walking in twos? Questionable. Walking alone? Stupid. Really stupid if you’re a woman.

Yeah, I’ll be sexist about this, because for the most part, I don’t think guys should call Escort. Sara and Heather told me that 25 percent of their riders are males. Come on guys: Do you really feel unsafe walking home at night? If you do, by all means call Escort. But if you’re just lazy, let someone who needs the service take your spot.

Escort often has long waits – that’s a fact. But maybe they wouldn’t if they didn’t have to drive guys around in search of the best party or groups of giggling girls whose stilettos makes it uncomfortable for them to walk to Prairie Moon. Think how much smoother Escort would run if people actually used it only for safety reasons.

At about 10:30 p.m. Friday we picked up two boys from the Fraternity Quad. I asked them if they ever took Escort because they felt unsafe. One of the boys laughed.

“No, I’m just lazy,” he said. “One time I called Escort to take me to Blockbuster so I could return a movie.”

I wanted to lecture him. I wanted to say it’s because of him that some girl decided not to wait 30 minutes for a ride and ended up walking home alone. But I just told him I was writing a column. I sure hope he reads The Daily.