Almost a year ago, the Undergraduate Government of Boston College Student Assembly (SA) passed a “Resolution Concerning Eagle Escort and Disability Assistance” with a unanimous vote.
The resolution was sponsored by Brendan Ferguson, Georgetown ’20 and previously MCAS ’20, and cosponsored by Hailey Boyan, MCAS ’18, and called for the “University to improve the Eagle Escort service by expanding resources to the service and increasing student access” to the vans. It also urged the “University to take the necessary steps to ensure efficient and quality transportation services” for students. The resolution does not, however, outline any specific steps for the University to take.
While the resolution has no concrete action items for the University to take, the purpose of the resolution was largely to demonstrate student desire for a change in the service. Today, the Council for Students with Disabilities (CSD) continues to advocate and work with administration members to better the service, although little has changed since the resolution passed. CSD is currently working on releasing a survey to the student body to obtain concrete data on student demand for the service to show administrators.
According to its website, Eagle Escort Services’ mission is to provide safety services to all members of BC’s community when traveling in and around campus, but is not meant to be used as a substitute for public transportation. There are currently two Eagle Escort vans, but only one is active while the other serves as a backup.
The Eagle Escort van currently shuttles students from the Primary Care Center to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital seven times a day, five days a week, in 90-minute intervals. The program also provides medical transportation services to students with a medical or temporary disability who have registered to be on the medical transport list. Students on the list can be dropped off and picked up on Middle Campus once a day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Additionally, the van provides safety and medical-related transportation for students who are traveling within a 2.5 mile radius of main campus.
Mary Royer, the previous chair of the CSD and LSOE ’17, was a guest speaker during the SA meeting, and provided testimonies that she had received from students about the inefficiencies Eagle Escort. According to Royer, a student who needed immediate appendicitis assistance waited 40 minutes for an Eagle Escort van to arrive. Students who have injuries and need Eagle Escort to transport them to main campus often miss or are late to classes, events, and meetings. This is problematic for students who have classes that count attendance as part of their overall grade. Royer had also received student testimonies of temporarily disabled students missing or being late to a class due to having to wait for an Eagle Escort van.
The current chair of CSD, Clair Chatellier, MCAS ’19, said that the efforts to expand and reform Eagle Escorts’ services and resources have been primarily based on anecdotes that CSD has received from students.
The Heights was unable to verify these anecdotes, because Royer shared them anonymously.
Chatellier had also helped with working on the resolution, and spoke about how conversations with BC administrators have progressed since then.
“We’ve been working pretty extensively with the administration from prior to the resolution, I would say,” she said. “And our work with the administration hasn’t changed that much because we’ve been talking with them in passing.”
Among the proposed changes to the program include creating a separate shuttle specifically to take students to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, adding another active van so there are two vans in service at all times, and using student drivers, an idea that was also mentioned in the campaign platform of Reed Piercey, next year’s UGBC president and MCAS ’19, and Ignacio Fletcher, next year’s UGBC executive vice president and MCAS ’20. Currently, according to an email from John King, executive director of public safety and chief of BCPD, the Eagle Escort program is staffed by Campus Security personnel on a daily basis.
From past conversations, Chatellier said that CSD has recognized that to call for any action, they must present concrete data to BC Police Department and the administration, which substantiate their proposals for expanding resources for the program.
“Semester by semester, there is a need to revisit the cache of details we have regarding this issue, and in the past, at least to my knowledge, there hasn’t been as much polling as I think there should have been,” said Rohit Banchani, director of policy for CSD and CSOM ’19.
Chatellier also explained that many times students will want to remain anonymous when speaking about disabilities, which she respects and understands, but cites this trend as another difficulty CSD faces when trying to gauge and communicate student demand for the service, as well as most common use-cases for the service.
“Something that we always have to keep in mind is that a lot of the time information can be legally confidential, and a lot of the time we can’t really ask the community that we’re serving about disabilities,” Chatellier said. “That can be an additional obstacle when trying to reach our constituents.”
CSD has been focused on working with Dean of Students Thomas Mogan to create and roll out a survey to the student body to collect data on student demand for the service, reactions from students who have used the program, the most-used aspect of the service, and more.
“The survey will go out to students with disabilities by the end of the semester,” Banchani said.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff