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SGA looks into safe ride program

By Kayla Pearson
Assistant News Editor

Students concerned about safety after a night out may have another option with a proposed new CARPOOL service that could be in place as early as next fall.

CARPOOL is a free student-run designated driver service.It was started by a Texas A&M student who was inspired to start the program after receiving a DWI, and hearing testimony at a Mother’s Against Drunk Driving Impact panel meeting.

The service was opened on Sept. 16, 1999, at 10 p.m. By the end of the year, they had given 6,343 rides, operating six to eight cars per weekend.

SGA hopes to make UNCP a part of this statistic. Before doing so, there is a lot of work to be done. The biggest part will be the proposal.

Writing the proposal will require the help of people from many different offices across campus, such as the chief of police, drug and alcohol counselors and residence life.

There are many different models of the program out there from different schools.

This group will be responsible for creating a plan that fits the needs of this campus.

“We have contacted schools that had a safe ride program and they directed us to Texas A&M where the program was started. We are in the process of now sitting down and writing a proposal for UNCP. Also, we are trying to take the right steps to call a meeting with everyone that will be directly involved in this program,” Student Issues Chair of SGA Timothy Sampson said.

Questions such as feasibility, operation, funding and liability must be addressed in the proposal.

“It has to be explored. A lot of issues have to be resolved before the program gets off the ground,” Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Development Tom Corti said.

Dr. Corti is an alumnus of Texas A&M and has seen the program work. He said that many students who used it at that school were not intoxicated but were people that had been left by their friends at parties and clubs.

He highlighted the fact that Texas A&M is a bigger school with more students and resources so a program at UNCP modeled directly after this school would not work.

The original CARPOOL model has six basic principles as its foundation and success.

The first is that it is free. Students who don’t want to walk and are deterred by the price of taxis don’t have the excuse of money to excuse driving or riding home with someone who has been drinking.

“Almost everyone I see out at parties and social events end up going home with someone with alcohol in their system. The next best alternative is walking and that isn’t safe either,” junior Ashley Justice said.

. Once an office is set up, students call in for a ride and someone is dispatched to the location of the student.

Other principles include being student-run, comfortable, rewarding and nonjudgmental. Students involved in the operation must go through a training session.

The objective is not to scold students for their actions or to be just another drunk bus, but to get students safely back on campus.

“It allows students that are intoxicated or just left behind a chance to get home. This program could also help in the fact of escorts on campus for students who are concerned about their safety,” Sampson said.

The information has recently been given to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Diane Jones to review.

She said her biggest concern is that with it being a student run service, someone has to be held accountable for anything that goes on.

“It’s something we’re going to look at. There are liability issues I want someone to research,” Dr. Jones said.

There is no specific time frame for the adoption of this program, although Sampson is aiming for it to be completed by fall 2008.

“We want students to realize that we are here for them, not here for the administration,” Sampson said.


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Updated: Sunday, February 10, 2008
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