Safe Ride will no longer bring students to parties at off-campus houses, said Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols.
Although Safe Ride has had a policy of not bringing students to parties for several years, only recently has it begun enforcing it.
The policy was instituted three years ago in response to feedback from off-campus residents, and Nichols said he hopes that it will help create a safer environment at off-campus parties.
“We started it a few years ago.” Nichols said, “I meet regularly with off-campus houses to talk about safety and how to avoid problems with the law and how to run safe events and not get arrested. And some of the feedback I got from the houses were ‘my god, these people are just descending on the house and we don’t want them here’ and then some of the feedback was that a lot of these people are arriving by the shuttle.”
Nichols said these complaints led to the change in Safe Ride policies.
“We’re not going to help them get there, that’s not our job,” Nichols said, “However it is our job, and we feel our responsibility, to get people safely back, but not necessarily to bring them.”
Another reason behind the policy change was to stop underage students from going to off-campus houses with the intention of drinking. Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) Vice President for Facilities Tessa Kramer ’13 said the change is intended to create a safer environment for students under the age of 21.
Kramer is not involved in the operations of Safe Ride, but is familiar with its policies because of her role in BSG.
“The reasoning behind the policy is multifold,” Kramer said, “but one reason, that hadn’t occurred to me, is that they are trying to prevent truckloads of underclassmen, underage students, going to these off-campus houses for the safety, and legal reasons, of the people living there. Those people can get in a lot of trouble with the police, not with security who doesn’t deal with off-campus houses. They decided that they didn’t want to use college resources, such as Safe Ride, to facilitate underage drinking.”
Kramer said some residents have been unable to get back to their own houses as a result of the policy. Safe Ride drivers are often unable to determine students’ ages, which has made enforcing the policy difficult.
“I’ve been hearing complaints from students who are 21 and older,” Kramer said. “[Especially] people who live at these off-campus places and request that Safe Ride take them home, even if they’re just going home and going to bed, and they’re being denied rides. Even though the theory is that this should only be applied to people that are underage, Safe Ride, and especially the people on the phone, have no way of knowing who is 21 and who is not. They don’t really trust students to tell them the truth.”
Ultimately, Nichols feels the policy will prove beneficial to student safety on and off campus, while not inhibiting transportation options for Bowdoin students.
“I feel good about that,” Nichols said, “I think it’s limiting our liability and I think the fewer students that end up in the situation out there, the safer it’s ultimately going to be. There are many safe ways to get from point A to point B other than the shuttle. The Brunswick Taxi is available; sober friends are available.”