Safe Rides, sporting new vans, extend schedules
A sober ride for college students afraid to walk alone through campus is the motto Safe Rides touts, and they’re not afraid to kick those out who don’t comply.
Tawas City junior Andrea Whitford has driven for Safe Rides for the past three years and said she’s had to kick out a few unruly customers.
Whitford said she pulls off to the nearest well-lit location to drop off students who are blatantly intoxicated and taking advantage of the free service and sometimes
refuses to pick up those who call in the first place.
Central Michigan University Lt. Cameron Wassman said the main benefit of the service is to keep people’s minds at ease who are concerned about safety.
“We want to stress what it was designed for. It’s not a taxi service,” Wassman said. “We want to help people who are legitimately concerned about their safety.”
Each year, the service gives students nearly 16,000 rides, and this year they’ll be escorting students in two fresh Chrysler Town & Country vans.
Together, the used vans cost $42,000, Wassman said, and were paid for by the Central Michigan University Police Department, the Health Service Department, Residence Life and Office of Student Life.
Each van fits five passengers, but Whitford said people in groups of three or more are considered safe to walk across campus together.
Nine safe ride employees run the service Sunday though Thursday until 2 a.m. and Friday and Saturday until 1 a.m., a time extension Wassman said that was recommended by the Student Government Association.
Whitford said the extended hours have added about three to five more rides each extended hour night.
The drivers aren’t just there to assist with rides; Wassman said an added benefit is that they’re helping to decrease crime throughout campus as well.
“There’s been a reduction in crime in parking lots,” he said. “It’s an extra set of eyes for visibility.”
Still, Whitford said her favorite part of the job is when students appreciate her service.
“It’s gratifying. It really does make you feel good,” she said. “It’s always nice to have people say they’re grateful.”
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