Nighthawk Rolls in Nissan Leafs

Nighthawk+Rolls+in+Nissan+Leafs

If you’ve heard rumors regarding a vehicle change within Public Safety (affectionately dubbed P-Safe), fear not: The infamous Segways are still in use.

What’s actually changing this fall is the Night Hawk system. The introduction of new Nissan Leafs to the program means that there will be no more of the gas-guzzling Ford Escape Hybrids.

The Night Hawk safely drives students to and from destinations within a six block radius of campus and is available within the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight, Sunday through Thursday, and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

According to Executive Director of Public Safety, Tim Marron, the cost and damage to the environment were both reasons for the change.

“We are able to lease six Nissan Leafs for slightly less than the cost of leasing the two Ford Escapes,” Marron said.

The switch to Nissan Leafs means more cars at Public Safety’s disposal.

“We had two vehicles last year and in past years, and now we’ll have six,” Marron said, adding that the wait time for the Night Hawk will be decreased with the influx of cars.

This change within the Night Hawk invites dialogue about what services Public Safety provides, and how it has functioned previously.

“With my experience using the Night Hawk, the drivers have been very short with me and just plain rude. I know that this is a difficult job, but that does not dismiss the level of respect that should be given to a student opting to use the service,” Seattle University sophomore Natalie Lucey said in a Facebook message to The Spectator. “I think it is a great service offered to students and there should be people employed who can manage the difficult situation they are encountered with in a professional and helpful manner.”

Like Lucey, student Night Hawk driver Akaila Ballard also said that the services have been less than perfect.

“I think people have had more negative experiences than positive experiences with the Night Hawk,” Ballard said. “As an employee, I don’t think that number of cars was our problem. I think that Night Hawk could have run really well on two cars; the problem was management and employee empowerment. I’ve worked with people who just didn’t care about the job at all.”

Marron said that every student on campus, whether potential passenger or driver in the Night Hawk system, is subject to the university’s Code of Conduct. He hopes that any student with a complaint would file it accordingly. Public Safety is ultimately there to help students stay safe in any way possible, whether through the Night Hawk or other on-campus services.

“The goal is whomever you are when you walk on campus, you won’t be able to go very far without seeing that red uniform. They’re there as a source of help, or if you’re here to do harm or whatever as an active deterrent that hey, you know what, there are people that are looking out for the safety of this campus all the time,” Marron said.

With nineteen years of law enforcement under his belt, Marron began work at Seattle U during the 2013-14 school year, and oversaw an important shift in Public Safety’s priorities. In the past, the main focus had been on student conduct, whereas now the main topic of concern is student safety. Public Safety officers still address matters of conduct when necessary, but according to Marron, having the university in the middle of Seattle is a game changer.

“Students need to realize that they are in the middle of a very busy city,” Marron said. “And they need to take on the mannerisms and practices that people who live in the middle of a city do.”

To Marron, this means a certain level of student responsibility. With the new Nissan Leafs, Public Safety can provide three times as many cars, and yet, Marron encourages students to plan for their own security. Even with an extra four cars, the Night Hawk couldn’t possibly accommodate every student’s transportation needs. Still, Public Safety is available by phone to help students find other options, like the department’s walking escort system, or calling a taxi.

All in all, the Night Hawk’s efficiency will be impacted not just by the number of cars, but also by the degree to which students take responsibility for their own safety.

The Night Hawk can be reached at 206-398-4295.