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ISSUE 120 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/6/2006

Student drivers chime in on Safe Ride

By David Henke
Variety Editor

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Since 1994, the St. Olaf Safe Ride program has shuttled people from one end of the campus to the other in an effort to provide safe vehicular transportation for concerned students. The program, which operates from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. every night that classes are in session, employs 13 student drivers. This week the Messenger was able to interview two of those drivers, Bill Dokken `08 and Brenden McGibbon ‘08, and get their side of the Safe Ride story.

Mess: What made you decide to apply to become a Safe Ride driver? What sort of work is involved in the application process? Did you have to take any sort of behind-the-wheel training?

Bill: I applied simply because it was up on the Job Postings on the St. Olaf website. I wanted to pick up more hours this semester, and it seemed like one of the more interesting work-study jobs. The application process is the same as other work-study jobs, only they do submit you to a background check and you have to sit through a two-hour driver safety course.

Mess: What are your duties as a Safe Ride driver?

Brenden: As a Safe Ride driver I work from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. during my shift, picking up and transporting people to and from campus. We pick up [people] from Highway 19, the Greenvale Apartments and the railroad tracks. We also can go Carleton's Main Commons to pick people up and there are a few apartments and houses that have been pre-approved to be used for Safe Ride.

Mess: What is an average Safe Ride shift like? How long are the shifts, how many riders do you have, etc.

Brenden: An average shift is 7-1 (6 hours), on a typical winter night you can have 30-70 pickups, right now is the busiest time of the year. During warmer weather there are typically less pick-ups. Mess: What's your favorite part of Safe Ride?

Bill: I think the best part is that it's a student work position that allows a lot of freedom. Obviously you have to be responsible and be available to give rides, but if no calls are coming in you can sit in Fireside and do homework, or watch TV in the Pause. And since your work essentially is driving around, listening to music and talking to people, you get out a lot more than if you were working a desk job somewhere.

Mess: How do you think the student population perceives Safe Ride? What sort of reactions do you receive from riders during your shifts?

Bill: One [reaction] that I get frequently is that a lot of students don't even know that Safe Ride drivers are student workers. I think that since a lot of the campus uses Safe Ride rarely, if ever, they don't know a lot about the program.

Mess: Do you think that actual campus safety concerns motivate students that use Safe Ride, or do the majority of students abuse the program so that they can simply get from one place to another faster?

Brenden: I think it is both. You get all types of riders; many just hate the cold and walking alone. Not to mention the typical student has so much crap to do that they try to get from place to place as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Bill: I think that there are many people who don't actually fear for their safety, but that isn't always the point. Sometimes people call that have an injury and can't walk, or it's very cold and windy, or they live several blocks off campus. To be honest I don't mind giving rides, no matter what a rider's reason is. The primary use of Safe Ride is to provide a safe ride.

Mess: Do you feel that you, as a Safe Ride driver, contribute to the overall safety of the campus?

Brenden: Without me, or any other Safe Ride driver, I think the world would be a lot scarier of a place to live in. I don't wanna know what a world without Safe Ride would be like, seriously.

Mess: Have you ever refused to give a group or an individual a ride? What is the program's policy on ride refusal?

Bill: If there's a group of more than two, or the driver feels uncomfortable because of the rider's behavior, we are allowed to deny people rides. But I've never had a problem with any riders, and I'm fine with giving groups a ride as long as there is enough seats.

Mess: And finally, what's the Safe Car like; is it pretty loaded?

Brenden: V6, hemi, tape deck, 3 subs in the back. After we got it, I took it to a friend of mine's place and paid WITH MY OWN MONEY for them to drop it to the ground, put lights on it and give it a bomb spoiler. So yeah, pretty loaded. BAM!

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