From the Editor: Standing up for Safe Rides

With the daunting world we are living in, it seems increasingly likely we will find ourselves in frightening situations. It’s easy to get lost ambling down an unfamiliar, dark road or feel trapped when too inebriated to make the long drive home. Fortunately, as Rider students, we have another option. We can always phone the Safe Rides program.
Safe Rides is a program available to our students between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. If you find yourself in an emergency situation in Mercer County between these two times, you can be picked up and returned to campus safely. A recent change, being published to the website this week, also states that if a student is in need of this service but is outside the time or location boundaries, he or she may still call. Students will then have to report to Susan Stahley, alcohol, drug and sexual assault education coordinator, to explain their need of the service.
“You’ll have 24 hours, or by Monday morning if it’s a weekend, to get to me and say, ‘This is my emergency,’” Stahley explained. “And if it’s not an emergency, we’ll bill your account.”
Prior to this semester, students could take advantage of the program regardless of their location or the time. The new restrictions have students calling out in protest. Many students are dissatisfied, wishing the program would revert to its past form. However, these same students are blind to a glaring fact — they are the reason for the changes.
“Students were using it as a taxi service and not as something that should be used in case of an emergency,” said Student Government Association (SGA) President Allie Koury.
According to Stahley, students were utilizing the service for free rides from Dunkin’ Donuts or from the train station. Many even exploited the service as a substitute for public transportation or the Rider shuttle. Funds are allocated by both the SGA and the Dean of Students office specifically for the Safe Rides program. However, if the cost of the program exceeds this budget, changes such as these are necessary.
Students misusing Safe Rides are acting spoiled and entitled. The program is not a chauffeur service and is not anybody’s free ride around town. Safe Rides exists for those students who are lost in a dreary, scary place or for those who aren’t in a fit state to drive themselves home securely. Rider students shouldn’t feel as though they were owed this service. It is a last resort, not a privilege or a perk.
More evidence of this entitlement comes from the Safe Rides drivers themselves. According to Crystal Trout, dispatcher at AAA Taxi in Ewing which sponsors Safe Rides, Rider students almost never tip their drivers. Students who are likely to tip their waiters or even their normal cab drivers won’t tip those sent to assist them in unfortunate situations. The rides, when used properly, are without cost. There is no harm in passing a few dollars to the driver who is essentially helping you. You are not owed this ride. It is a service that deserves some level of gratitude.
Daniel Palumbo, owner of the taxi company, called the program a “necessity” that is tremendously beneficial to our students and should be adopted by more campuses. He also stated that the taxi company understands students’ desires to get around on the weekends, between campuses, the malls, etc. Palumbo expressed an interest in expanding the program beyond just a safety program, to one for ease in activities.
Our students were utilizing Safe Rides to their convenience as it was. It’s clear that an expansion of this sort would please many on this campus. However, it would be extremely costly, and there are limits to the budget for this program. To expand this service would trigger either a tuition increase or reductions in other programs.  Spending on other projects, such as Cranberry Day, could be reduced so the money could go toward our students’ benefit through this car service.
But do students deserve it? Our greed and privilege has resulted in major cutbacks to the Safe Rides program already. If we abuse a service intended for our safekeeping, how can we be expected to handle a service for our convenience? If students would like to one day witness this expansion, a change in behavior is warranted. Stop misusing the programs that we are fortunate to even have. And tip your driver.
Safe Rides stands as a beacon of safety for Rider’s students. The university’s efforts to protect students continue to shine through this program, although the students who abuse it stand in the way of its luster. Students must learn not to misuse Safe Rides, before the program becomes too costly and its light is forced to go out.

The weekly editorial expresses the
majority opinion of The Rider News.
This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.


Printed in the 11/12/14 issue.

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