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A look behind the scenes of the Brandeis Escort Service

Published: September 21, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.


Youve seen them around campus in those blue polo shirts and hoodies;

mostly youve probably seen people flagging them down in order to catch a ride, but who are the people behind Brandeis Escort Service?

Founded in the mid 1970s, Escort Services employs around fifty-five students each year.

Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan, a thirty year veteran, has headed the program for the past seventeen years, calling it a safe and free transportation service with the benefit of also being a job for undergraduate students.

Students have many options working for Escort, including jobs as drivers of Brandeis six Escort vans, coordinators who answer phones at the front gate, and special events workers, who help out in various ways with large events on campus, inluding the management of parking and traffic. Escort also offers flexible employment.

Callahan described escort workers as dependable, organized, and responsible, and believes the university administration is one-hundred percent behind the escort service as is evidenced by the new and updated equipment that they provide on a yearly basis.

Recently, the service added a new portable GPS system for special event trips and a new handicap-accessible van that can carry up to three wheelchairs. Escort utilizes six vans, four of which seat twelve, and all are equipped with a two-way radio to enable communication with coordinators.

The campus van, otherwise deemed the Branvan, runs a circuit around campus during the daytime Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm throughout the academic year, and an evening van from 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. seven days a week. Branvan also offers a Waltham van running 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. seven days a week.

Crystal Shuttle company also runs a daytime bus around campus five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and a Waltham van operating from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Finally, the Boston/Cambridge Shuttle service transports students from Usdan to Harvard Square in Cambridge or Kenmore Square in Boston. For further information on the escort service, including van schedules, students can visit Escorts webpage at www.mybrandeis.edu/students. In addition, the head coordinators of Escort will soon be doing a campus-wide mailbox stuffing providing all service schedules.

Shatilla De Leon, 08, Head Coordinator of Operations, has been working with Escort since her freshman year, first as a driver, then as a coordinator, and now in a management position. De Leons responsibilities entail hiring and training, maintaining discipline, payroll, records, coordinating the Crystal Bus schedules and employee shifts, and ensuring shift coverage.

De Leon said that the escort service is a great resource thats sometimes misunderstood when it comes to how to use the system as she believes it often doesnt get explained well and because students must call in because the service must prioritize which order it picks up students.

She also spoke of the aid that Escort provides to students, saying its a very helpful tool for students and its nice to have the ability to go into Waltham.

De Leon spoke fondly of the job, stating that it has been an enjoyable but hardworking experience that she has honestly enjoyed and has helped her to form special bonds with the people she works with.

Of her role as head coordinator, she said that the responsibility of this position has taught her valuable lessons about handling management situations and public relations that occur in the real world. Of the job, De Leon also said its so much fun!

Head Coordinator of Events and Services, David Braun 08, has also worked with Escort since his freshman year. A van driver second semester, Braun became a coordinator his sophomore year and finally a head coordinator his junior year.

Braun is in charge of special events and van rentals and coordinates transportation for disabled and injured students. Braun also coordinates with the respective offices and departments running events for special occasions such as opening day or open houses to see what sort of transportation they may need.

Of the new GPS system, Braun said it has helped expand our ability to do events since before, they were limited, because tools such as MapQuest arent always reliable. Also, previously, there was always the chance that drivers would get lost and the GPS takes pressure off of the driver and coordinator.

Braun believes the Escort service is a beneficial one to the Brandeis community that is greatly utilized, mentioning sometimes were so full that we dont have enough room for everyone.

To deal with this problem, a new 12-4 weekend shift was recently added and Braun administers periodic polls to students to assess how to do things better.

When asked what working for escort has taught him, Braun said hes gained project management, problem solving skills, organization, and people skills from the job.

Mentioning how Escort is constantly expanding, Braun described how the service has grown from around 20 people when he started to currently around 55.

Braun explained the difference between the positions Escort offers and mentioned that with the management position comes added responsibility. Everything you do is tied back to the service as a coordinator… when things run smoothly, it reflects on the coordinator.

Braun alluded to the family aspect of the Escort service, mentioning that the difference between Escort and lots of other jobs, in his opinion, is that escort workers are friendlier and family oriented. He also told of how working for escort helped him to expand [his] network of friends.

Braun stated that escort workers are great and, in reference to the management team, said they have top-tier talent. Braun said that escort pushes me to work hard and learn but there is also fun and play.

David Winship, 10, started as a driver for escort his freshman year and is now Head Coordinator of Maintenance and Bus Monitoring. His responsibilities include such tasks as gassing the vans and performing daily van checks to verify that lights, doors, etc. are working properly. A full maintenance report for the vans must also be completed every two weeks to ensure safety.

Winship said that the significance of the escort service to the Brandeis community lies in the fact that we get people where they need to be and that without the service, the University wouldnt run as well.

Referencing the benefits of working for the service, Winship stated that the job provides a chance to work in a real world environment with bosses who understand academic responsibility.

On-Call Driver/Coordinator Alan Meyerson, 08, started off as a driver his junior year, taking the shifts that most students avoid- Saturday nights. But, Meyerson said, it grew on me and it was at times hilarious due to the difficult behavior drivers usually face with these passengers.

Meyersons responsibilities include being on call, in charge of all medical transports and covering open shifts when they arise.

Meyerson also referenced the usefulness of the Escort service, claiming that its a service that almost all incoming freshmen use. Of Escort, Meyerson said its a very valuable service and very unique. Elaborating on Escorts unique aspect, Meyerson said he believe it speaks to something special about Brandeis because most campuses dont have student-run services as high-value as Brandeis transport and paramedic units.

Like his co-workers, Meyerson spoke of the responsibility that his job has instilled in him, especially since hes on call ready and able to make sure its always running.

Adding that its sometimes a harrowing experience, Meyerson explained how so much really goes into making the Branvan work, and you dont really imagine all the preplanning that goes into it.

Editor's note: the author is the daughter of Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan