Safe Ride use increases after assault reports

by Amelia Rosch | 10/22/13 10:00pm

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Demand for Safe Ride has increased, but not enough to expand the program.
by Kathy Dong / The Dartmouth

The program provides 40 to 60 rides to students, faculty and staff per night, he said.

Kinne said that the increase in Safe Ride use will continue to promote student safety.

"We think that the increase in usage is a positive thing," he said. "We want people to use the service."

Alex Yerukhimov '14, a Safe Ride driver, said given the recent campus alerts, it makes sense that more students want to take advantage of the program.

"If students feel more unsafe, they get more rides," he said.

Increased Safe Ride use began after Safety and Security introduced follow-up alerts this term, which increased the overall volume and frequency of campus emails from the department.

The majority of Safe Ride users are students who do not want to walk alone at night or faculty and staff who want an escort to their vehicles, Kinne said.

Overall, more women than men use the program, although he did not have specific statistics available.

"My gut feeling tells me more women than men use it and, historically, that has been true," he said.

Even with the increase in requests for Safe Ride the program is still running smoothly, Kinne said.

Students normally do not have to wait long to be picked up by a Safe Ride car, but the service can sometimes be backed up.

"Sometimes, there are short periods of time in which we get all sorts of people calling," he said. "Thus far, we've been able to keep up with it most of the time."

Even when students have to wait to use the service, there are still precautions they can take, such as waiting indoors or other safe areas and letting the Safe Ride drivers know exactly where they are, Kinne said.

Vivienne Kim '16 said in an email that she uses Safe Ride as a "precautionary" measure when she has to walk alone or with a small group of girls at night. She said she usually takes advantage of the service several times each term.

The policy of only allowing one student to be driven by the Safe Ride car at a time can be inefficient, especially if a group of people need to use the program.

"Once or twice, I've been told that if I'm travelling in a group, the person driving will have to come back and pick each of us up individually, which I find counterintuitive," she said. "Eventually, there will be one person left alone in the place he or she is being picked up from."

Safe Ride began using student drivers in January 2011 to aid students who do not feel comfortable walking around at night.

Safe Ride cars will pick up any student who asks for a ride, regardless of why they want it.

"It's not our place to judge if [the caller] is feeling unsafe or just lazy," Yerukhimov said. "It's our job to drive them."

Safe Ride begins offering rides at 9 p.m. and ends its services at 4 a.m., although recent campus emails from Kinne said rides would be provided before or after the windows upon request. It runs every day during the fall, winter and spring terms. During summer terms, Safe Ride only offers walking escorts for students.

On Sept. 23, an employee of the College was sexually assaulted outside of Novack Cafe close to the Church of Christ. On Oct. 6, a female student reported that she was sexually assaulted in her room. Safety and Security sent out campus email alerts about both events.