One week later, we continue to send fervent prayers and hold unwavering hope for Hannah to come home. In light of the recent events concerning Hannah Graham, the UVA community has a heightened sense of alarm, caution, and fear of safety.
Over the past few years, there have been a number of cases in which students have gone missing. There is also a major issue regarding sexual assaults against female college students across the country.
Although we as students are limited in what we can do to help find Hannah, we can use measures that will protect the safety of ourselves and our peers on and off grounds. It is crucial that we unite as a community with the shared goal of ensuring the safety of students in Charlottesville. I feel strongly that every UVA student should utilize the following apps as precautionary measures. Whether you feel unsafe in your location, are walking alone, or simply need a distraction, these apps will help protect you and assure your friends and family of your safety.
Circle of 6
This app is awesome and free. After a friend told me about it last week, I downloaded it immediately. You pick six people (such as a close friend, your roommate, your boyfriend, your big sis, or a friend with a car) to be in your “Circle of 6” via your phone contacts. As soon as you open the app, there are a few buttons you can choose from. One button, if pressed, will automatically send a text to all six people in your circle with your GPS location and a message saying, “Come and get me. I need help getting home safely. Call when you’re close.” This is extremely useful if you feel unsafe, are lost, or need to find a ride ASAP. Another button will send a text to them saying, “Call me and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.” This is if you want to talk to someone on the phone and look distracted. Another button will send a text simply saying, “I need to talk,” in cases where you want to notify someone that you feel unsafe. There is another button that sends a text saying, “Thanks everyone, I’ve gotten help” once one of your friends comes through. Lastly, there is a button you can press that will call local, campus-specific hotlines and emergency numbers.
Trust me when I say this: SafeTrek is worth the $1.99. It has five-star ratings and is so easy to use. All you have to do is press a button that says, “Hold until safe” if, for example, you are walking home alone or need to leave your apartment for a minute to take out the trash. As soon as you take your thumb off the button, you have ten seconds to enter your pin number before it calls the police and gives them your location. Honestly, whenever any of us are walking somewhere at night, alone or not, we should be using this app as a precautionary measure.
You don’t need a smartphone for this app because it’s via SMS text messaging. All you have to do is sign up online by giving your phone number, creating a password, and providing an emergency contact. If you are walking home in the dark or in a sketchy location, just text Kitestring when you expect to be home (i.e. “15 m”), and if you don’t text back within 15 minutes that you made it home, it will immediately alert your emergency contacts.