Thursday, November 18, 2010

Future of 'Safe Ride' could be in jeopardy

By Lauren Rothering
Editor in Chief

Saint Mary’s University’s participation in “Safe Ride,” which offers free bus service to SMU students on weekends, is under scrutiny because of the belligerence of some SMU students, according to Andrea Essar, director of campus safety.

Essar recently received a call from the city, which operates the bus service, saying that many of their drivers were “ready to quit” because of the belligerence of some SMU students who use the service. Students are becoming belligerent when bus drivers will not heed their request to be dropped off at multiple locations.

According to Essar, the bus picks up students and drops them off at one location only—the roundabout outside the Hendrickson Center. The bus used to have a drop off in the New Village and Ek Family Village also, but this often caused campus safety staff to be stretched too thin in ensuring the safety of students. The singular drop-off location allows campus safety staff to monitor departing bus riders in case of fights or high levels of intoxication.

Although there is only one designated drop-off location, some SMU students make requests to be dropped off at other locations, such at the New Village or the JC Penny parking lot. When bus drivers, who are only allowed to drop off at Hendrickson, refuse, students can become aggressive.

Essar said that belligerence by SMU students on the bus is a new problem this year, and may be indicative of larger issues.

“I’ve heard from not only bus drivers, but also ambulance EMTs that the level of intoxication in students this year is extremely excessive,” said Essar.

Although the city has not said it will officially shut down the service, Essar said it is a possibility if the behavior of SMU students does not change.

“We are really fortunate to have a safety bus for our students and the community; it would be a shame if we lost it,” said Essar.

No comments: