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Ponnada: Low not always bad

BY SRI PONNADA | JANUARY 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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Last fall, the University of Iowa Student Government paired up with Yellow Cab of Iowa City and launched its new program SafeRide, which gives every UI student one free cab ride per semester.
Nearly two months after SafeRide started, 31 students were reported to have used the service. By the beginning of the spring semester, that number grew to be only 54.

Clearly, some students have used SafeRide. However, some expected the numbers to be higher, as reported by The Daily Iowan. But are low numbers necessarily a bad thing?

SafeRide is intended to provide UI students “emergency transport home to distance themselves from potentially dangerous situations,” as described on the service’s website. Out of 30,000 students, only 54 felt so unsafe that they had to call for a cab ride home — that’s not a bad thing.

UISG President Nic Pottebaum said an “emergency situation” is defined by the individual student.
“The definition of an unexpected or emergency situation has been left ambiguous intentionally,” he said. “Students who use the service must determine, in their own judgment, what constitutes an emergency scenario.”

When groups of students who used the service last semester were asked why they used it, a majority said they used SafeRide because of fear or a lack of a ride home. Only 10 percent self-reported alcohol as a reason.

UISG Vice President Jessie Tobin said in an interview with the DI she suspects not all who are intoxicated wanted to admit to it.

“I can imagine that quite a few of those [lacking a ride] are because they are intoxicated,” she said.

The data also show that more than 50 percent of the users were freshmen.

“I know 54 students were able to find a safe ride home when they found themselves in an emergency or unexpected situation,” Pottebaum said. “This is a good thing. Knowing that they got home safely is the goal of this program and we meet it.”

Now, it seems that quite a number of students who used SafeRide may have very well been students who were too drunk to find their way home after a night out on the town — I could be wrong. However, even in the event that this is true, SafeRide is by far a better option than DrunkDrive.


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