NU grad returns to direct SafeRide

Amanda Laabs and Amanda Laabs

After graduating last spring, Paul David Shrader is back on campus, but this time as the new SafeRide Coordinator. As an undergraduate, he once attempted to anonymously organize a school-wide snowball fight, took a risky and impulsive midnight trip to a South Side fast-food chicken restaurant with best friend and former Associated Student Government President Neal Sales-Griffin, and was a Community Assistant for three years. He discusses how these experiences will prepare him for his new job as SafeRide Coordinator.

Daily: What made you want to come back and work at Northwestern again?

Paul David Shrader: I didn’t have any plans for what I was going to be doing for the next year – I was planning on taking a year off before law school … It seemed like a pretty good opportunity for me, especially since many of my friends have had some difficulty finding any sort of work right now.

Daily: What do you think you can improve about SafeRide?

PDS: What I’d really like to do is change the way people are hired. A SafeRide driver position is one of the more coveted jobs on campus, I think, so I’d really like to look at the applications thoroughly and hire the people who can best provide a really good service to the NU community.

Daily: Have you made any changes, or what changes do you plan on making to SafeRide?

PDS: I’d like to (work) with the GPS that’s supposed to be instituted toward the beginning of next month. That way, when someone calls in, dispatchers can say, “Hey, this bus is going to be there in five minutes, and it would be a lot faster for you to take that.”

(The university) took away pick-up at Sherman and Grove – where the Keg, Bar Louie and all those bars are. In the past few years, SafeRide has not picked up at bars – that’s our policy – and part of the reason for that is that those bars have always been on a shuttle stop. That puts us in a difficult position because we want to make sure that students are getting home safely, but how are they going to do that without the shuttle? So I’ve been working to get a few more shuttle stops added.

One physical change that I’d like to see is potentially adding another van. We share vans with (the) Center for Student Involvement, and I think we do have enough money in our budget to add an extra van on some of the busier nights.

Daily: How has your experience been working for NU so far?

PDS: It’s been good – certainly different being part of the infamous administration rather than a student. However, as a student I participated in a lot of things where I put myself in a more supervisory position – I was a CA for three years and a senior CA for two. So the transition hasn’t been too difficult.

Daily: Favorite part of working as SafeRide Director?

PDS: Orientation sessions were a lot of fun. I did the 411 on 911 presentations, and since I’m part of Student Affairs, I’ve been helping out with a lot of things. Interacting with students is the best part of the job.

Daily: How has the transition from dispatcher to director been?

PDS: Well, my hours are quite different. There’s less personal student interaction. Starting out as a driver, you interact with a lot of people face-to-face, and it’s kind of cool because you get to have conversations with people. As a dispatcher, you get to have 30-45 second conversations with people, and most of that is all business. In the director position, the only time I’m working with students is when they’re applying for (a job) or submitting questions or problems.

One other thing I’d like to change about SafeRide is instituting some sort of feedback system. SafeRide has this bad reputation of crazy drivers flying down Sheridan Road and supposedly hitting people, which I think those claims are pretty unfounded. I’d like to get more individual feedback on specific drivers, and if there are problems, then let’s replace those people. If there aren’t we can generally change our reputation.

Daily: How long do you plan on staying?

PDS: Another year or two. Then I plan on going to law school. I’m originally from Palos Verdes, so I’m thinking about either LA or Chicago for school.

Daily: You could go to Northwestern again.

PDS: If I get in! We’ll see.