Safe Rides abuse may be disciplined

by Jess Hoogendoorn

The Lawrenceville Student Government Association (SGA) is re-examining the Safe Rides cab service because students are said to be repeatedly abusing the program.
Safe Rides, also known as Cranberry Cabs, was put in to place a year and a half ago to discourage drunk driving, according to SGA President Brian Pawelko. The program allowed students to take a cab back to campus, at no cost to them, if they found themselves in an unsafe situation.
However, after reviewing the list of student names given to the university by the cab service, it was determined that  students were not using the program for its intended purpose. The list provides student names as well as the locations they have been picked up from.
“We’ve seen that people have been coming back from the train station,” Pawelko said. “After two to three times of using the program, it is not a Safe Ride anymore.”
The limit for rides is currently twice per semester. If a student exceeds this quota, the SGA originally stipulated that the student would have to attend a seminar on alcohol safety and responsibility. However, this repercussion for Safe Ride abuse is being re-evaluated because students are not always using the program after drinking.
Sophomore Robert Gray  used the service to get to class  last semester while he was living in Trenton. After his second use of Safe Rides, he was called and told that he was not using the service properly.
Gray said he thought using the service was more feasible than catching the bus.
“There’s high crime [in Trenton],” Gray said. “I witnessed a shooting while waiting for the bus one day.”
One student who wished to remain anonymous said service has already been stopped to Quaker Bridge Mall and the Hamilton Train Station. However, he believes students should still get rides to campus from train stations.
“A lot of people go party in the city and drink,” he said.
He said Safe Rides should pick up students at the Trenton Train Station because it is not in the safest area.
One suggestion to deter abuse is to fine students who use the program more than twice a semester.
Scott Phillips, SGA elections and recruitment coordinator, said he likes the idea of having students pay the cost of their additional cab rides.
“We don’t want to deter people from using the program, but people need to take responsibility,” he said.
The cost of rides are generally between $20 and $30, according to SGA Vice President Jon Chebra.
Chebra said he is in favor of a personal responsibility and safety class.
Pawelko also said SGA will work with administrators to construct a proper class for violators and come up with the best solutions to Safe Ride abuse. One proposal is to look to the shuttle service to take some of the burden off Safe Rides, Pawelko said.
However, relying too heavily on the shuttle would be a logistical nightmare, Chebra said. He explained that part of the problem is Rider’s location, which makes it difficult for students to use public transportation.
Safe Rides costs between $14,000 and $15,000 per year. SGA plans to budget for $8,000 of the total, said Pawelko.
“It’s not just a money situation,” Pawelko said. “With the increase of off-campus parties, we want to tailor to people who go and need a safe ride back.”
The program was not put in place for students to use as an excuse for not being responsible, Pawelko said. Students should be responsible and plan ahead rather than simply relying on Safe Rides. He explained that the program was put in place to save lives, not promote bad behavior.
Although the list of students allegedly abusing the program has been substantial, according to Pawelko, there have been fewer people abusing the program this semester.
Pawelko said he believes the program has been an asset and that a lot has been done right, but it is a continuing process.

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