But now, the campus neighborhood watch is in disarray, as people seem to have lost interest in the group. As the third year of Penn Watch comes to a close this month, patrol volunteers have significantly dwindled, and program coordinators often face disinterest among their former supporters. "It's downright apathy," said Phi Sigma Sigma sorority member Meredith Grabois, a Penn Watch coordinator. "It doesn't require an intense intellectual commitment . . . and we've made it so easy for people to show up." The difficulty in finding volunteers has made program coordinators nervous about the status of Penn Watch. Undergraduate Assembly member Brian Bora told the UA earlier this month that "Penn Watch is falling apart," noting that most UA members had again failed to provide a list of interested volunteers. Campus Greek organizations began Penn Watch in 1989 in cooperation with University Police to provide surveillance for the University's immediate off-campus area. The Undergraduate Assembly joined the program soon after. Patrols, which now operate from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., consist of four people, usually fraternity and sorority members, who alternate days every week. The UA is scheduled for a route on Wednesday nights every week. Last year at this time, Penn Watch had about 400 volunteers. This fall, the program has approximately 200 members. One reason for the decline this year lies in the hands of the UA, which is supposed to provide several volunteers for their weekly rounds. But despite Bora's continual reminders to the UA, assembly members have failed to provide Penn Watch with enough warm bodies to cover their routes. In almost every UA meeting this fall, Bora -- who leads the UA's Safety and Security Committee -- has requested that members provide a list of students willing to take on a patrol. He said earlier this month that a campus service fraternity has had to fill in for the UA on Wednesday nights. The UA and the Greeks have similar problems in their recruitment efforts. Grabois said people are afraid to walk the streets of West Philadelphia at night and that they tend not to think Penn Watch makes a difference to safety. But she said that the coordinators have made several changes to the program this year to recruit more volunteers, including rotating the schedules, so members patrol with different people every week, and shortening the hours from two and a half to two hours. Grabois said she thinks the entire Greek system is to blame for the low participation of fraternity and sorority members in the program, saying that "if one group is not participating, the whole system is failing." And Bora chastised UA members for the program's lack of support. "The UA is a part of this," Bora said. "Now we have to do our part." But UA member Kirsten Bartok said last night she does not think members should have to recruit Penn Watch volunteers. She said it is the assembly's role to start programs and then to let undergraduates take the helm. Bartok said one problem with Penn Watch is that Greeks "are very unreliable when they don't have pledges." "As a campus, I think people want to move away from depending solely on the Greek organizations," Bartok said. She added that putting the program in the hands of student volunteer groups or residential advisors could increase participation. Some fraternity members said last night they think Penn Watch is a valuable program, adding that they are surprised interest this year is lower than last. "I think it really says something about our school that we even have a program like this at all," Delta Kappa Epsilon member Whitney Strotz said last night. Strotz, who is treasurer of the Interfraternity Council, conceded that the time commitment to the program may discourage some volunteers, but said he does not think the IFC should mandate participation from fraternities.Comments powered by Disqus
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