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UISG aims for better transparency with SafeRide, other programs

BY JONATHAN SOLIS | JANUARY 23, 2013 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa Student Government leaders hope to continue improving their transparency among UI students this semester, and one way they’d like to do that is by further promoting the SafeRide service, which they launched last fall.

UISG started the program to help students in emergency situations. By partnering with a local cab company, students can call for one free cab ride a semester.

UISG President Nic Pottebaum said that the program is meeting officials’ goals.

“The program is designed to help students who find themselves in emergency situations,” he said. “We haven’t found any abuse of the program and no unexpected use.”

Although SafeRide has been utilized, some say the number is lower than expected.

“Fifty-four out 30,000 students is not even a notable percentage,” said UI senior Katherine Dove, a. “I feel like it has good potential, but there was not enough marketing for it.”

Dove said that even though she thought the rules were restricting, she put the number in her phone anyway, just to be safe.

However, not all students are as aware of the program.

“I haven’t heard of anyone using it, but I’m a fan of the idea,” said UI junior John Hartnett, who ran with the Hashtag Party last year.

Improving awareness of the program is part of the UISG’s mission to be more transparent and effective with its campaigns.

Efforts to inform students last semester included mass emails, advertisements, and a blitz program, which included handing out free T-shirts and talking to students on campus.

The blitz was designed to raise awareness for many UISG safety programs, including Wingman, a program to help inform students about alcohol misuse and safety.

Bill Nelson, the director of the Center for Student Involvement & Leadership, said the current UISG is the highest functioning student government he’s seen in his 10 years at Iowa, but he agreed the members can continue working on increasing communication.

“On the one hand, I feel like they are making a great effort to be transparent, but obviously, if students feel uninformed, there is room for improvement,” he said.

Nelson said SafeRide is not being utilized as much as anticipated, but he is unsure if that stems from less need than before or if there is not enough information available.

UISG Sen. Drew Lakin said the more officials promote it, the more people will use it, but that the lower number isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“When people call for SafeRide, they may be in danger, so even though the numbers may be low, for every individual case, I’m sure they were happy they had the service,” he said.


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