While walking on Eastern Michigan University’s campus at night, there is a good chance you will run into students in bright yellow jackets offering to escort you to your destination. These students are part of Student Eyes and Ears for University Safety.
The primary function of SEEUS is to escort people, especially those walking by themselves, to their destinations, either by walking with them or by van, when available. Their secondary function is to be aware of any suspicious activity on campus and report concerns to campus police.
What makes SEEUS unique is that it is almost entirely run by EMU students. The campus escorts are trained by certified student trainers. The trainers report to supervisors, who are also students.
The supervisors run the day-to-day operations of SEEUS and fall under the overall supervision of the Department of Public Safety, reporting to sergeants and EMU’s Chief of Police Robert Heighes.
SEEUS has been working to ensure campus safety for many years.
“We have documents going all the way back to 1993,” Michael Powers, a SEEUS supervisor, said.
The long history of SEEUS has contributed to a decrease in crime on campus in recent years. Forcible sex offenses, for example, decreased from 11 percent in 2005 to four percent in 2010, according to DPS annual security reports.
“I believe SEEUS is important because it not only provides a valuable, power-in-numbers, escort service for people who are walking alone, but also acts as extra eyes and ears for the EMU police department,” SEEUS employee Justin Evans said.
SEEUS is listed as one of the auxiliary activities in the university’s budget, a stand-alone, self-supporting service that “internally funds capital, facility operations and maintenance, improvements and debt service,” as stated in the budget overview.
This means that the funding for SEEUS comes not from the university’s budget, but from within the organization itself. SEEUS, along with the other auxiliary activities, pays a fee to the university’s general fund for any services received from the university’s budget.
To request a SEEUS escort, students, staff and faculty can call 734-487-3387. An escort will then be sent out by a dispatcher and should arrive within a few moments, depending on their call volume. Walking escorts can also be found around campus.
The main purpose of the SEEUS mobile vans is to shuttle students from Green Lots 1 and 2 to residence halls and campus apartments, although they do respond to calls for other locations.
SEEUS walking escorts are available daily from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and the mobile van service runs Sunday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.