Imagine this: You're a student at Western Kentucky University getting out of your night class in Cherry Hall and have to pass the spooky-looking Kissing Bridge on the way back to your dorm. You're alone, so you pull out your phone and open an app allowing your friends to track your location for the time it takes to walk home.
That's one feature of the Rave Guardian mobile phone app, which WKU's Student Government Association is encouraging students to download and use.
SGA President Jay Todd Richey told freshmen about the app Sunday at this year's M.A.S.T.E.R Plan Convocation.
After downloading the free app, students can submit anonymous crime tips to campus police through text messages and images or hit a panic button to immediately share their GPS location with campus police.
There's also the safety timer feature, which allows designated "guardians" to check on the user's status while active. If the safety timer isn't deactivated before it expires, campus police are automatically given the user's profile information so they can check on them.
Students might also appreciate the tip texting feature, which allows users to share text messages and photos with campus police directly. Sharing personal photos and messages with police might make some users uncomfortable, but Richey said students have all the control.
"They can’t control your phone. They can’t go through your messages," he said of the police. "Campus safety also means personal safety.”
For Richey, rolling out the app on campus represents an effort that SGA has supported for over a year. The SGA wanted to find an app to enhance campus safety and give students "safety at the palm of their hand.”
"The potential is off the charts if people really chose to take the use of it seriously," said Zach Jones, a senior from Henderson who chairs SGA's Campus Improvements Committee.
Jones said SGA and Student Affairs starting looking into a campus safety app with now-retired Vice President Howard Bailey.
Jones feels safe on WKU's campus, but said the app offers a great addition to existing security features. The university maintains emergency phones scattered across the campus for students to use when needed.
"You never know when something is going to happen," he said.
Jones asked students to plan ahead instead of waiting for something bad to happen.
"Take the time to take care of yourself," he said.