The Student Government is currently constructing a system for a potential sober ride system, known as the Safe Rides Initiative. Safe Rides is the name the students have given to the system, due to its purpose of providing safe rides for potentially intoxicated students.
If enacted, this system will be very similar to other universities such as James Madison University and Virginia Tech, and the route will path along the outskirts of campus, giving a “safe ride” to students who are unable to safely return home.
“Safe Rides is something that needs the will of the students and community, but also needs sufficient funds to expand and revolutionize the culture on this campus,” said Raj Panth, who is Student Government’s secretary of public relations and is responsible for managing funding for Safe Rides.
Panth said Safe Rides would need support from a variety of organizations on campus, including the Mason Police.
“As far as administration goes, I know the Chief of Police is willing to work with us in making this happen,” Panth said. “It’s a vital piece of safety for this university, and it is good for the community and everyone. I think there is a huge chance of this working out.”
Panth recognized the need for community support in this project.
“If we can get sufficient funding and a strong working relationship with the police and Fairfax, this program can grow into something incredible, and something truly one of its kind in Northern Virginia,” Panth said.
Student government divided the task of establishing Safe Rides into different groups, including logistics, funding and help from student organizations. Student Government Executive Chief of Staff Liam Hennelly discussed the possibility of working with various administrative groups on campus to determine the best way to run the system.
“JMU’s system is student run, but due to liability it may be easier for Mason to carry out this system through existing organizations on campus,” Hennelly said.
However, despite the hopes of getting Mason administration involved in the project, Hennelly believes a lot of the motivation and work will have to come from students.
“A lot of it will be up to students next year, and how much work they put into it,” Hennelly said.
Senator Chandler Jenkins is working with the logistics of Safe Rides. She is currently investigating the different options to figure out how the program will work best.
“This includes the radius in which Safe Rides would pick students up (so how far outside of the Fairfax campus would a Safe Ride taxi go), the type of vehicle (bus, taxi, van, etc.), and the exact type of service we would be providing (i.e. a shuttle to and from bars in Fairfax back to campus or one that would cater more towards off-campus parties),” Jenkins said.
Despite the number of obstacles Student Government would have to overcome, Jenkins was optimistic about the likelihood of Safe Rides succeeding.
“It is very likely that a Safe Rides program will be enacted at Mason in the coming years. The logistics aspect, as well as the funding component, takes time to figure out,” Jenkins said. “However, we have a dedicated group of students behind it in Student Government and the program also has a lot of administrative and student support. It is definitely something we will work passionately for in the coming years.”
However, Jenkins acknowledged that there is no specific time frame for enacting Safe Rides.
“Once we understand exactly the need we are catering to and how that will be fulfilled, we will have a better understanding of how long the process will take and when exactly the end result will be realized,” Jenkins said.