Mobile app establishes virtual buddy system

By Shelby Tankersley

It isn’t exactly breaking news that sexual assault is a problem in today’s culture. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, every 107 seconds, an American is a victim of such attacks.

 80% of those victims are under the age of 30, like most college students. OU is not exempt from this problem. Just earlier this month the campus had its own run in with a sexual assault.

To help keep this campus a safe one, OUSC teamed up with OUPD and the app Companion in order to provide students with a way to stay safe. OUSC is leading a campaign to make the campus safer, and this app is part of that initiative.

What does Companion do?

 Essentially, Companion makes it so you never have to walk alone if you don’t want to.

“OUSC’s goal with this is to give personal safety back to the individual that is at risk,” Samuel Abbott, OUSC’s student services director, said. “Companion allows the student pick someone to watch them walk and gives them the opportunity to contact OUPD in a more user friendly way, they can do it with a one touch system.”

Abbott also mentioned a one touch system that allows the user to contact OUPD directly.

“They have an ‘I feel nervous’ button which will allow OUPD to pick parts of campus that can be considered at risk for students,” Abbott said. “I feel nervous” will send your location to OUPD, so they know where you are.

“The ‘call OUPD’ button makes it easier to contact the police.” Abbott said.

 Companion also offers a map of the campus, which can be helpful for visitors or new Grizzlies.

Why use it?

“We want our students to have a plan in place before they need a plan,” Ken Kiley, the director of police information technology for OUPD, said. “If they know what to do ahead of time, then they don’t have to figure out what to do when a situation arises.”

 After all, OUPD is on campus in order to help OU students stay safe. Kiley said this app is another way for them to do that. Along with that, this app is convenient for the students.

“It’s great that the app offers a virtual buddy system, which is something the police have recommended for years,” Kiley said.  “It’s great to have a buddy with you when you walk around campus.”

 OU is a fairly safe campus, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so keep a companion around, whether or not it is in app form.

If apps aren’t your thing or you don’t have a smart phone, OUPD offers a range of services to keep students safe. That information can be found at www.oakland.edu/police.