In light of the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, the College of William and Mary’s Department of Student Affairs has been working to ensure that all students feel secure on campus. One of their main goals is to increase awareness about two free mobile safety apps designed to promote campus safety.
The “In Case of Crisis” app — designed to offer students advice on handling emergency situations and make them aware of whom to contact — has been offered for several years. The new “Rave Guardian” app was designed as a mobile version of emergency call boxes. The Guardian app also offers ways to send tips to the William and Mary Police Department and allows users to set timers that will alert selected contacts if they have not arrived safely to a given destination at a set time. “The degree of interactivity is the difference. The Rave Guardian is for when you are in distress, or you have something to report,” Emergency Management Coordinator Kenton Towner said about the difference between the apps.
Towner said that the Rave Guardian app also allows students to carry on direct text conversations with the Campus Police.
“We know most students have their phones with them at all times,” Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D. ’06 said in an email. “With the apps, crisis information and personalized support networks for students can now also be with them at all times.”
Through the Rave Guardian app, students can add specific guardians to their list of contacts, ideally allowing those people to know quickly if that student is missing.
While the app provides more access to the Campus Police, Ambler and Towner said that students should not rely solely on their phones in dangerous situations.
“We have to remember that the application doesn’t do anything magical to your phone,” Towner said. “If you’re in a place where you’re not getting a really good signal, you might not be able to take full advantage of the app. “
Ambler added that while the app can be useful, looking out for other students across campus remains key.
“Apps can never be a substitute for everyday vigilance, nor will they replace the need for fellow members of the Tribe to watch out for one another’s well-being and to take personal responsibility for seeking help immediately when someone else needs it,” Ambler said.
Though a sense of community is critical in promoting safety on campus, the Emergency Management Team and Department of Student Affairs expressed hope that the apps will help students feel more secure on campus.
“We believe the app provides students with a swift connection to William & Mary police and offers them additional safety features that greatly help in circumstances where students may find themselves alone on campus,” Vice President for Administration and Chair of the William and Mary Emergency Management Team Anna Martin said in an email. “We urge all students to take a look at the app to learn how it might be of service to them.”