Section: News

Safe Rides returns with student-designed app

Starting after spring break, if you’re stranded and need a ride on campus, all you’ll have to do is whip out your phone. Welcome to the new, web-based Safe Rides.

The student-run shuttle service, which suspended operations last year, is being resurrected. Project manager Adam Egelman ’16, also the digital director for the Collegian, said the service will be relaunched as a web application, with initial testing starting this week and continuing over break.

Egelman, a brother of Alpha Delta Phi (ADs) and product manager of Computing Club, spent last summer interning at Facebook, and said he approached Computing Club President and fellow AD Sam Troper ’18 last August with the idea of creating more technological tools to better serve Kenyon’s student life.

“There’s a need at Kenyon for software products like this to be made,” Egelman said in reference to ride-sharing apps.

In its previous iteration, Safe Rides required two volunteers. Students in need of a ride would call a phone held by the volunteer in the passenger seat of the car, who would then log the rides given. Greek Council previously required members of Greek organizations to alternate volunteering on Fridays and Saturdays, which was, according to Greek Council President Greta Greising ’16, in conflict with the national by-laws of some of the fraternities.

“Now we are doing it volunteer-based; we tried to do that last year but it didn’t work because people would sign up and then just bail,” Greising said. “The success of Safe Rides after spring break will depend on Greeks volunteering for shifts and actually following through.”

In its development of the service, Computing Club has worked directly with Greek Council, the group traditionally responsible for facilitating the service. Egelman cited a desire to expand volunteering opportunities to organizations campus-wide.

“We’re open to expanding it beyond Greek Council,” Egelman said. “But in terms of soft commits and actually any kind of commits, it’s all pretty much Greek life for now.”

Gray Clark ’17, risk management chair of Greek Council and brother of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), noted Safe Rides began as a precaution.

Both Greising and Clark mentioned the experience of Colin Boyarski, a student who would have graduated with the Class of 2008 but died in 2005 from hypothermia, as a motivating factor for the program. 

“If students are drunk and want to get home, it’s a very safe way,” Clark said. “This campus isn’t big, but it is cold.”

In an email to the Collegian, Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper confirmed his department’s support of the service’s reintroduction.

“Safe Rides would provide an important service to the students at Kenyon,” he said. “Campus Safety will support the service, and would work collaboratively to enhance the safety of students,” Hooper wrote.

The innovations, spearheaded by Egelman and Troper, can be used by iPhone and Android users, as well as through any browser on a computer. A kenyon.edu email address is required for login.

While Clark indicated organizing Greeks to volunteer should not be an issue, the web app will allow for one volunteer to run Safe Rides alone, in contrast to the previous two-person model. In addition to lowering chances of volunteers “bailing,” as Greising put it, the now-defunct ride log will be replaced with data generated by the software’s use.

Egelman noted Safe Rides’ previous inefficiency, and explained how the app addresses this issue specifically. “You don’t want to go across campus with only two people in the car if you can fill it,” he said.

Clark expressed enthusiasm for Safe Rides’ new interface. “People like their iPhones and their technology, so I think it will be pretty cool — it will be like a new Uber,” he said.

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