By Phoebe Roe
In February 2014, a Denison University student died from hypothermia after falling asleep in a heap of snow on a particularly cold night in Granville. Such occurrences make it clear how important the student-run program Safe Rides, previously run solely by Greek members, is for students to get to and from places around campus safely late on Friday and Saturday nights. Recently, the program has encountered issues which make its future uncertain.
Problems for Safe Rides started after the Beta Theta Pi fraternity looked into their national bylaws and discovered that according to national policy, their organization’s insurance would not cover volunteering that involves driving. Thus, Greek Council cannot require that the Betas participate in Safe Rides, according to an anonymous Greek-affiliated student.
“The Greek Council Executive Board found some issues with the original Safe Rides program as it stood, so [Director of Student Activities and Greek Life] Laura Kane, myself and the entire exec board have been doing a lot of work to make it more clear and concise,” Gray Clark ’17, the risk management coordinator of Safe Rides, said.
The old Safe Rides program operated quite differently than it will in the future. Previously, an email was sent to students every week explaining which Greek organizations would be in charge of Safe Rides for the weekend and giving the phone number at which they could be reached. It would then be the responsibility of the assigned Greek organization to find members to staff Safe Rides. Student “volunteers” received volunteer hours for their time and typically worked in two-hour shifts, with one driver and one passenger in the car at all times. Students would call the number to request a ride and the volunteers responsible for the car would drive those students to their preferred destination.
The future of Safe Rides is in question in part because it will no longer be a mandatory program. “Right now, we’re looking at a totally voluntary basis, focusing more on the community service aspect of it,” Clark said.
Clark expressed confidence the program will remain successful despite these changes. “It has been voluntary for the past few weekends and we’ve still had pretty good turnout,” Clark said.
An alternative idea has been proposed by Greek Council to turn Safe Rides into a student job: students would be hired to do the work Greek organizations have been doing for years. “Greek Council doesn’t want it to be [a student job],” Clark said. “Nor do I — if it’s a student job, that takes away the community service aspect of it. This is something the Greeks do to give back to the community. We don’t want to get paid for it; we just want to do it because it is our job to give back.”