Some CU Boulder students concerned about homeless on, near campus

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BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) -- With more than 30,000 undergraduate students enrolled at University of Colorado Boulder, the campus gets a lot of foot traffic.

“It’s pretty easy to get around, it’s pretty easy to navigate,” said freshman Honor Brogden.

But at night, some students have reservations about walking on campus.

The only big concern that I ever do have is the homeless population, especially up near the bridge at Broadway,” said freshman Sophia Jacobs.

Jacobs says she and her friend, Sacha Volgin, try to always walk together at night — but worries about other students who don’t.

“There is someone that fully has camp set up there, and is fully living there,” she said, motioning toward a bridge. “I know girls that walk home alone at night and it’s probably not the safest thing to be walking through that area alone."

It was a concern echoed by one of her fellow undergraduate students who wrote to the FOX31 Problem Solvers, after he says female students complained to him about being approached by the transient population at night on and near campus.

“A lot of them approach you and ask you questions. It’s not always, ‘Can I have money?’ But it’s always, ‘Can you help me out? Can I stop and talk to you? Do you have food?’" said Jacobs, alongside Volgin.

Both women say they haven’t felt threatened by their interaction with the transient population, but admit it feels uncomfortable at times.

“We have heard about people who are concerned about the transient population on campus,” Scott Pribble, with the CU Boulder Police Department, told FOX31.

“As a public institution of higher learning, our buildings are open to the public during their normal operating hours — and that includes people experiencing homelessness,” he said.

Pribble says when it comes to escorting students across campus, resources are limited.

“We are a very small department, which means we don’t have a large amount of officers working each shift. They are dedicated to responding to 911 emergencies and other situations. If we do have the opportunity to help, we will," he said.

CU’s student government does offer a service called CU NightRide. The ride-share app is similar to Lyft or Uber, but free for students.

“I don’t think enough people know about it, necessarily,” said Molly Brauer, CU Boulder Assistant Director for Administration at the University Memorial Center.

“We would like students to be using it, especially if they’re worried about getting somewhere on campus late at night when it’s dark,” she added.

Wait times have been a challenge, though, during those peak hours — especially in the winter months.

“NightRide isn’t always available because so many people want it, and there’s only ‘x’ amount of drivers,” said Jacobs, when asked if she had used the service.

Currently, CU NightRide has seven cars in service and 25 drivers. They gave more than 21,000 rides during the 2018-2019 academic year.

“If people are walking alone at night — whether that’s coming from the library to their residence halls or maybe they work a late job on campus — we are seeing them utilize us,” Brauer said.

It’s paid for by student fees, but additional funding would be needed to expand or to add a walking program to the list of services.

“We are looking at our current service numbers — how many students are we able to service each year, what number of rides — and we’re looking at how we can improve,” said Brauer. “And that would take more staff and resources moving forward.”

For more information on CU NightRide, visit its website.

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