Escort head steps down

Dalia Naamani-Goldman

The Escort Service’s student coordinator was asked to resign Monday afternoon following last week’s walkout by several student drivers. Administrators also continue to meet with escort workers to resolve problems with the service.

Heather Redding, who agreed to step down from the position, said Escort Service Coordinator Jamie Jimenez “was not pleased” because Redding supported the walkout. Jimenez asked Redding to resign, and Redding said she complied because she does not agree with the administration’s changes to the service.

“It’s called the ‘student-run Escort Service,'” said Redding, a Communication senior. “It’s not that anymore.”

Some escort drivers also met with administrators on Monday. They said they also hope to meet with Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis early next week.

Several student Escort Service drivers said they were on strike Thursday evening to protest recent changes made to the service by university administrators.

The walkout later was called off at about 10 p.m. when organizers spoke with Banis, who agreed to negotiate with the students about their requests.

The drivers said they were angry that two new security guards from an outside agency earn higher wages than the starting $7.50 per-hour rate for students.

Some workers also said they resented administrators’ new policies, which were created without Escort drivers’ input, as a response to the six attacks on students on or near the Evanston Campus since September.

Administrators added two seven-passenger vans to the Escort Service fleet, hired the private security guards as drivers and installed a multiline phone in the dispatcher’s office in Allison Hall.

Vice President for University Relations Alan Cubbage said the university is looking into several alternatives to providing an escort service for students.

“Whether or not that continues to involve students remains to be seen,” Cubbage said.

Redding said the Escort Service cannot operate without students involved.

“(Drivers unaffiliated with NU) don’t know the campus and they don’t know the names of buildings,” Redding said. “We know where the pick-ups for White Hen and the Blue Whale are. No one is a safer as a result of (nonstudent) drivers.”

On a typical night, the Escort Service employs seven students and gives about 100 to 120 rides. One student dispatcher takes phone requests from the service’s Allison office and the other six are split between three cars, with two drivers in each white sedan, Jimenez told The Daily on Thursday.

Student escort driver Tyler Barnett said he is upset that Redding is being blamed by university administrators for actions outside of her control.

“There’s nothing she could do about (the strike),” said Barnett, a Weinberg senior. “It wasn’t an Escort-wide strike and she did not specifically support the strike. She supported its workers.”

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