StuGov allocates $34,000 to SafeRide ISU driver wage



Alex Connor

Student Government unanimously allocated $34,000 to the Iowa State Police Department to fund the driver wage for SafeRide ISU during Wednesday’s meeting.

SafeRide ISU is an escort service provided by the Iowa State Police Department for students, faculty and staff for rides across campus between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Iowa State Police Chief Michael Newton addressed the senate on the need for the funding, saying that while the Department of Public Safety purchased an additional vehicle in the spring, they were unable to afford additional staffing.

SafeRide ISU currently runs two vehicles, and with the funding from Student Government, will be able to add an additional route beginning in two weeks.

The need for the additional route, Newton said, comes after reviewing data from the service which saw an 82.9 percent increase in calls from 2015 to 2016.

“I started looking at statistics and as soon as we launched the app, SafeRide exploded,” Newton said.

However, with the uptick in service requests, SafeRide’s average response time began to increase resulting in more frequent cancellations.

“We had a total of a little over 5,000 folks we were not able to serve,” Newton said.

According to statistics provided by Newton on SafeRide, the service received roughly 18,000 passengers for requested trips, but only 13,000 completed trips.

Several questions posed to Newton by students included the future of a Student Government partnership and what the costs will ultimately be covering through hiring more drivers to staff an additional route.

Sen. Kathryn Neilsen asked if this would be to address the students that wanted a ride and had to cancel, or if this would cover more students in the long run.

“I believe once the wait times go down, we will then have to discuss if it skyrockets,” Newton said.

As part of the discussion with senate, Newton addressed the possibility of discussing parameters on the service, such as ride limits, if SafeRide is abused.

Newton said some students will treat SafeRide as a “free-Uber” by taking the service into campus and then walking to the bars.

However, Newton said, by restricting the service it limits its availability to be a safe resource for students who actually need it. Instead, through data and surveys, Newton said he’d like to pinpoint why people might be using SafeRide in the first place.

“If there really is a safety concern that people are using this for,” Newton said. “I’d rather address safety concerns then give people a free ride.”

SafeRide currently has 19 employees and with the $34,000 in funding, the department hopes to add on six more drivers.

Newton said he hopes the funding from Student Government is a one time deal, but would still like to work with Student Government in other collaborative efforts.

The senate also unanimously funded the Wrestling Club for $27.98 so that the organization can attend a dual at Simpson College in October.

Sam Brinkman, junior in finance, was also seated as the Interfraternity Council senator during the meeting.

“I’ve been looking at getting involved in Student Government ever since I first got to Iowa State, I’m passionate about serving our students,” Brinkman said.

The senate will convene next week at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Campanile Room of the Memorial Union.