by Ryan Harvard
Designed to help eliminate dangerous, “uncomfortable, or unexpected situations” among UCSD students, AS Saferides is certainly a well-intentioned program. But it is not above criticism.
For 2012-2013, Saferides has a budget of $27,000 and the service operates from “11:00 PM to 3:00 AM Tuesday,Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.” Breaking that down, the service runs for about 480 hours per year, or over $50/hour during the school year. Despite the expenditure, AS claims “Safe Rides is a FREE service” on their website, which is false, as the money comes from student tuition by way of the student activity fee, which every student pays. Therefore, every UCSD student pays for AS Saferides whether they use it or not.
But since the program is primarily designed to prevent drunk driving incidents, what about students who do not drink or drink responsibly? Should students in substance-free housing be forced to pay into a program which they certainly will not use?
Well, Saferides will also remove students from “uncomfortable” or “unexpected” situations, which is the strongest argument for the program. No one can predict the future, and it is reasonable to assume that even the most responsible students could find themselves needing a rescue at some point.
However, in such extreme circumstances where one requires immediate assistance from an unexpected or uncomfortable situation, it might be better to call the police. And, of course, the program has such limited operating hours and limited area that relying on Saferides for such a rescue might not be a wise decision. Not to mention that the program will not be available post-graduation, so relying on it now will not help you in the least after you leave.
A better idea for Saferides would be to contract with local cab services just as UCSD has done with the city busses. With a student ID and a sticker, any student could call the cab company and ride free a few times a quarter. The service would have a far greater reach, exist 24 hours a day, and could offer a far better service than Safe Rides. Students could learn how to make use of cab services when they are truly stuck somewhere after they graduate, and could just pay their own way through a service they’re familiar with when their free rides are up. Responsible students could get even get rides to and from the airport or other locations around San Diego.
However, this still does not solve the problem of enabling irresponsible students from being reckless, knowing they can always just call Saferides for a quick rescue. Learning how to drink responsibly and use caution when planning a night out are critical skills for any college-aged person, and Safe Rides enables students to do whatever they want and not suffer the consequences. Is it worth enabling reckless behavior in all students in order to save the few who truly need help? Unfortunately, without the necessary statistics, it would be impossible to determine which Safe Rides users actually needed a rescue and which just got drunk downtown on a whim, so this question may remain unanswered.
But if we are going to implement mandatory programs which nanny students through college, we might as well guide them through all aspects of their life. Another problem still plagues the UCSD student body – STDs and unplanned pregnancy. Just as the city buses cannot possibly be a substitute for Saferides, the university’s condom dispensers are not nearly enough to cover the 30,000 student population, especially since many students seem to forget to keep a condom on their person until it is too late.
UCSD should implement an additional condom delivery service to rush contraceptives to students in their time of need. In fact, AS Safe Rides has already laid most of the infrastructure required for such a venture. The new service would operate identically to Safe Rides but would only deliver condoms to any student at any time, no questions asked.
After discreetly texting the service your address (and approximate open window location) a Condom Cannon driver will rush to your assistance and quickly launch a slew of condoms through your window and right into your sweaty, anxious palms – with your significant other none the wiser.
Of course, just like Saferides, every student would have to pay for the Condom Cannon service via their student activity fee whether or not they’re planning on using it.