Mercyhurst first in PA to offer new personal security app

Friday August 02, 2019

uask hurstAlready home to a robust program targeted to reduce sexual violence on campus, Mercyhurst University is adding yet another tool to protect its students, and this one is right at their fingertips.

Beginning this fall, Mercyhurst joins several colleges throughout the nation, and is the first in Pennsylvania, to launch UASK (University Assault. Services. Knowledge.), a smartphone application for real-time personal security.

UASK Hurst gives every Mercyhurst student who downloads the app access to interactive features like two panic buttons, one that immediately calls local emergency personnel (911) and the other dials campus police; the ability to alert friends with emergency or notification messages and share GPS location with selected contacts, and a platform for storing emergency medical information. Resources also include confidential support and counseling, help with navigating the reporting process, and national hotline and chat services.

Alice Agnew, Title IX coordinator at Mercyhurst, said the app augments a number of programs that her office and the university’s Counseling Center manage through Pennsylvania’s It’s On Us Grant. Governor Tom Wolf launched the “It’s On Us PA” campaign in 2016, inviting education leaders and all Pennsylvanians to play a role in ending sexual violence.

In addition to general campus outreach and healthy relationship curricula, Mercyhurst has used the state funding to engage campus speakers, train employees and hearing boards, issue the Campus Climate survey, and offer the Coaching Boys Into Men program, among others.

“We provide all kinds of information on our website and in the various programs we offer, but this kind of technology is what students use every day,” Agnew said. “It puts all kinds of resources at their disposal 24-7 with just the press of a finger.” 

Besides UASK Hurst, the following university programs also exist:

  • UASK DMV - 10 universities in DMV region (DC, Maryland, Northern Virginia)
  • UASK Duke - Duke University 

The following are community-based resources: 

  • ASK DC - Washington, DC
  • ASK AZ - Arizona
  • ASK CT - Connecticut
  • ASK ND - North Dakota 

For more information on the Mercyhurst program, contact Alice Agnew at aagnew@mercyhurst.edu.