Late-night shuttle to commence operation

by Sam Rauschenfels | 1/10/11 11:00pm

The College's newly-created safety shuttle service will begin transporting students around campus on Jan. 14, as one of acting Dean of the College Sylvia Spears' recently-announced health and safety initiatives. Students interviewed by The Dartmouth said that while they appreciate the safety measure, they worry that the system similar to those already in place at various other colleges will not operate late enough into the night.

The nighttime shuttle service, which will run between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., was announced by Spears on Jan. 4 as a measure to help reduce sexual abuse and alcohol harm on campus, The Dartmouth previously reported. Shuttles will be driven by students and dispatched by Safety and Security, according to the dean of the College's website.

Dartmouth Emergency Medical Services declined an initial request from College administrators to run the shuttles, according to EMS director Ryan Speers '11.

"In the form [in which the shuttle service] was proposed, it would not be compatible with our current programs," Speers said. "We feel that, especially relevant to sexual assault, emergency medical response to the campus is our primary response to those issues. The program as I understand it is not to address students who are in a medical need in any way."

The system could provide an effective way to promote student safety, particularly in harsh winter weather conditions, according to Inter-Fraternity Council President Tyler Brace '11.

"Especially in the winter, it could be dangerous for drunk students to walk home," Brace said. "I think it's a great way to watch out for students."

Although students interviewed by The Dartmouth described feeling relatively safe on campus, many said they believed that the proposed shuttle service could prove beneficial.

"As far as I know, Dartmouth is a pretty safe place, but [we should be open to do] anything for safety," Samantha Victor '14 said.

Widespread use of late-night shuttles may also aid in reducing instances of sexual assault, allowing individuals to return home alone after social events, rather than remaining in social environments in which they feel uncomfortable, Victor said.

Motema Letlatsa '12 said she will appreciate the shuttle during Winter term, especially when traveling long distances around campus. Letlatsa said, however, that she does not think the service will lower the rate of sexual assault.

While the shuttle might not be widely used due to Dartmouth's small campus, it could prove more useful with longer hours of operation, Shelby Jackson '13 said.

"If I'm walking around on campus, the scariest times would be after 2 a.m.," Jackson said.

Expanding the hours to 3 a.m. would benefit "late-night stragglers" returning to their residence halls, Brace said.

Kimberly Waters '11 said the proposed hours were "perfect" because Baker-Berry Library closes at 2 a.m.

"I would definitely use the shuttle service," she said. "I've always wanted one since freshman year."

Spears said the shuttle service will stop at 2 a.m. because by then students will have made it to "their final destinations for the evening," The Dartmouth previously reported.

Other schools operate late-night shuttle services in various capacities. Many comparable universities have operated a form of shuttle service for a number of years.

Brown University provides "safety-oriented transportation" by certified drivers through their safeRIDE program, according to the university's website.

Middlebury College offers transportation for students through its MiddRides program, which runs until 2:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

Bowdoin College services students until 3 a.m. via the Bowdoin Shuttle, according to the schools' sites.

Harvard University and Yale University also offer late-night transportation, with shuttles running until 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., respectively.