Do you remember what you talked about in the Safe Ride van on the way back from the party last weekend? Probably not. Chances are, though, that your Safe Ride driver does.

The Safe Ride Program has served Bowdoin students for some 20 years and, according to Assistant Director of Security Louann Dustin-Hunter, students have always worked as the drivers. This semester, a rotation of 13 students drive the Safe Ride van Sundays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Students apply to become Safe Ride drivers at the beginning of the semester through the Student Employment Web site. Students wishing to be Safe Ride drivers must be van certified and have a clean driving record.

Sophomore Alicia Martinez drives one of the 1 to 3 a.m. shifts and applied for the job because she "love[s] driving, it's so relaxing."

First year David Paul said, "I love driving and as a first year, I thought it would be a great way to learn the geography of Brunswick."

Though reasons for being a student Safe Ride driver vary, the comfortable wages are certainly nothing to complain about. Starting pay is $8.25 an hour, with standard pay raise according to the College's policy. The starting pay for most on-campus jobs is under $8.00.

Another job perk for Martinez is the opportunity being a student Safe Ride driver gives her to "meet a lot of interesting people."

Driver David Funk '10 said that he usually makes conversation with his passenger to make things less awkward, but in one situation it just made it worse.

"I picked up a girl from Parkview Hospital late one Sunday," he said. "I asked her, and prefaced it with 'if you don't mind me asking,' what she was doing at Parkview so late. She was silent for about a minute and then said, 'UTI.'"

"That was the most awkward I have ever felt in a safe-ride and I can only imagine what she was feeling," Funk added.

While many students who utilize Safe Ride are not under the influence of alcohol or any other substance, some students are.

Funk has driven many inebriated students around campus.

"One night I picked up a student who was not sober in any way and drove him back to his apartment. He told me that his friends called Safe Ride for him. 'I guess that means I am pretty f***ed up...,' was his conclusion," said Funk.

"Once outside of his apartment, the student refused to get out of the car because [he thought] BCN was trying to kill him. 'You don't see them? You don't see them? They have surrounded the car!' This student pleaded with me to let him stay in the van because he would die if he got out. He insisted that we whisper and not say the acronym BCN because 'they cannot know we are onto them.' Once I convinced him that he would not get shot and that I would wait and make sure he got into his apartment safely, he decided it was okay to make a run for it."

On a different night, two intoxicated first years begged Funk for a ride to 7-11 after they missed Super Snack.

"When I refused because I had such a long list of rides to pick up, they decided to jump on the back of the minivan and scream 'I am humping the Safe Ride.' Finally, after a period of time had passed, somebody came out of the Afro-Am house and told them to get off," said Funk. "Later after picking up the people who were waiting for me, I drove by these two kids and one of them threw his cellphone at my van."

While Funk and other student Safe Ride drivers are usually good-humored about intoxicated passengers, it is important to remember that drivers can deny rides and report suspicious students to Security. The goal of Safe Ride is to transport students around campus when students do not feel safe walking or transporting themselves.

A common complaint among the student body is that Safe Ride is not worth utilizing because it takes too long for the van to arrive.

"Sometimes it gets hectic and I get one call after another and I don't want to keep any potential safe riders waiting," driver Paul said.

Student Coordinator Janelle Charles '08 said that she "would like the student body to respect Safe Ride."

"It is really important that the van be kept in top shape because the van is not used strictly for security and is checked out to other student organizations," she said. "When people leave garbage and other items in Safe Ride, it makes our jobs a lot more difficult."