BOZEMAN — While serving as student body president two years ago, Montana State University student Kylar Clifton sought an answer to a critical question: How can we make students feel safer on campus?

So Clifton worked with Frank Parrish, Chief of University Police, to design and launch a safety app for smartphones called Safe Cats. The app officially launched June 11 at MSU’s freshman orientation, where the group of incoming students and their parents were the first to download it. 

They sought to make Safe Cats an all-encompassing source for the safety resources a student or faculty and staff member could need.

“All the community resources that focus on safety and wellness on campus are located on the app, and so knowing what is available to you and to support you as a Bobcat I think is the most important goal,” said Clifton, who was president of Associated Students of MSU until he graduated in spring 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Safe Cats is available for free in the Apple App Store or Android Market. The app features nine services which can be accessed with a click:

  • An emergency button to dial 911.
  • Friend Walk, which allows users to send their location in real-time to a friend who can watch and make sure they arrive at their desired location safely.
  • Silent Witness, where users can report anonymously to University Police either by calling or writing a message.
  • Safety Toolbox, which includes features like sharing a user’s location, accessing the flashlight mode on a phone and sending out an “I’m OK” message to loved ones in case of an emergency.
  • Campus maps, where users can access their location on interactive maps of MSU.
  • Emergency Actions, where users can review plans for incidents such as active shooters, chemical spills, medical emergencies and extreme weather.
  • Support Resources, where users can access some of the most common support tools such as the Academic Advising Center, medical services, mental health counseling, the VOICE Center, MSU Parking Services and the Office of Institutional Equity.
  • Suicide Crisis, where users can either call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
  • Safety Escort, which lets users call MSU Police to request a ride to wherever they need to go.

“We have a safe community, but a lot of our students are coming from big cities, a lot of places that may not be as safe as our wonderful university,” Parrish said. “Safe Cats will help everyone feel safer while providing them with easy to access safety resources right on their phones.”

MSU launches new safety app for students, faculty and staff

The idea for an app stemmed from Clifton’s passion for safety, which he developed as a resident advisor on campus. As an RA in South Hedges residence hall and an assistant resident director for Hannon Hall and the Quads, he worked with new students and said he understands how important it is for students to have direct access to emergency resources.

“Anything I could do while in office to help improve student safety on campus, no matter if that was 100% or 1%, that was important,” he said. 

Parrish and Clifton said launching the app involved a large group of people from University Police officers to ASMSU senators and Office of Student Engagement managers. Clifton said he was thankful for Parrish’s help through the process, which included finding a vendor and completing other logistical details. 

“He is so service-oriented that no matter how big the obstacle was or how long it was going to take, he was willing to hit it head on to put his whole team behind it,” Clifton said.

Parrish was equally grateful for the work ethic and vision Clifton and the rest of the students.

“We have had a wonderful relationship with the last three ASMSU presidents I’ve been here for, and we have such great students, student leadership, and this is another example of how working with students can produce really great results,” Parrish said. "I am grateful for the work members of our University Police Department and our student leadership did to make this app a reality."

For more information on the Safe Cats app or University Police, please contact Parrish at 406-994-4788 or fparrish@montana.edu.

This story was posted at fairfieldsuntimes.com