SafeRide program will debut at the start of the upcoming fall semester

BY ANNA THEODOSIS | MAY 09, 2012 6:30 AM

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Though University of Iowa student leaders say the launch of the SafeRide service this fall will help students, some worry the restricted use is pointless.

The UI Student Government recently completed its plans for the new program. The free taxi service will launch at the beginning of the fall semester and will present an alternative for undergraduate and graduate students to get home in emergency situations.

Former UISG Vice President Brittany Caplin said the program does have some restrictions. Students' use is limited to once per semester, and if people are caught abusing the system — using the service numerous times or for nonemergencies — they will be banned for four years.

UISG officials said emergencies include being intoxicated and unable to drive home or at a house party and feeling uncomfortable enough to leave.

"[Students] need to clarify what the emergency is," Caplin said. "The cab will take you to your home or the hospital, nowhere else."

SafeRide was developed in response to numerous alleged assaults on campus this past school year and the installation of the 21-ordinance in 2010.

UI junior Jessica Defino said she's aware of campus safety and likes the additional service.

"I think it's a good idea because of some of the dangers that happen on campus," she said.

Currently, the UI police offer a NiteRide service to female students, picking them up at a few locations on campus and taking them home.

SafeRide will be available for male and female students.

Cambus manager Brian McClatchey said that though the program could benefit students, it doesn't provide the same advantages as NiteRide.

"I think it has potential," he said. "One ride per semester? Obviously, it's not an option for regular transportation. I think the intentions are good; it's just very limited."

Caplin said the limit is an effort to keep costs from exceeding the $40,000 budget.

The purpose of SafeRide is to complement NiteRide, Caplin said, not replace it.

"NiteRide takes you from on-campus to on or off campus," she said. "SafeRide takes you from on or off-campus [to home or the hospital]."

UISG is collaborating with Yellow Cab to provide the taxis. Caplin said she felt Yellow Cab was the best company to partner with.

"They understand the workings of the university," she said. "They also have the number of vehicles, [and] their security on their vehicles is also very well-done."

Caplin said the service also helps students who find themselves in trouble at house parties.

"We believe that there are more house parties and more underage students — because of the ordinance — are drinking more at their houses," she said. "The idea is to remove any barriers that would prevent a student from helping their friends in an emergency. SafeRide is if you just need to get out, you need to go home."

Despite McClatchey's concerns, he said he applauded UISG for its efforts.

"It'll be interesting [to see] how many people use it," he said. "I commend them for giving it a shot; you have to put it out there and see what the response is."

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