Administrators respond to SafeRide petition protesting ban of off-campus to off-campus rides


Daily file photo

A SafeRide driver pulls up to Norris University Center. The University responded to complaints about recent changes in SafeRide’s policies in a statement released Monday.

Rebecca Savransky, Campus Editor

The administration responded Monday to a petition that requested Northwestern revoke its policy restricting rides between two off-campus locations.

In the response, which was posted on the Division of Student Affairs page on the Northwestern website, Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, assistant vice president for student auxiliary services, said the new policy would remain, but noted administrators had met with several representatives from Associated Student Government in an attempt to increase transparency and to incorporate student opinions into future University decisions.

After conducting studies about SafeRide’s mission and analyzing Evanston ordinances, administrators found the organization was in violation of specific parts of the city code because they allowed rides between two off-campus locations, therefore prompting the policy change. They also noted in the letter that SafeRide’s primary motive was to transport students safely to and from on-campus locations, noting off-campus to off-campus rides was never a part of the intent of SafeRide. Payne-Kirchmeier said if the organization continued their off-campus ride policies, SafeRide could be shut down completely.

In her response to the petition, Payne-Kirchmeier also said administrators planned to look into alternative methods of transportation in Evanston to ensure safe options for students to use off campus.

“We have learned from our conversations with students that the principal reason students want off-campus service to continue is that they are not satisfied with the frequency or reliability of the current shuttle bus system on the Evanston campus,” Payne-Kirchmeier wrote in the response.

She added she planned to sit in on ASG student life committee meetings to improve the transportation services currently available and to discuss how to incorporate student discussions into their decisions.

ASG director of transportation, Haley Hinkle, said she met with Payne-Kirchmeier, SafeRide coordinator Bernard Foster and other administrators after the new policy was instituted to discuss student responses and ways to improve the current transportation services.

“We were just talking about if students are so upset that the SafeRide policies changed so they can’t travel between off-campus locations then what does that say about our shuttle services and our other transportation and safety information and services that the University is providing,” Hinkle said.

The Medill sophomore said the group discussed specific neighborhoods and parts of Evanston that are not covered thoroughly enough by the current shuttle services and how to better communicate the safe walking options available to students. She said administrators also emphasized the importance of increasing discussion with student representatives to best satisfy students campus-wide.

She said that during this quarter, administrators and students will continue meeting to thoroughly analyze current transportation services on campus.

“We’re going to sit down and form a task force with students to really take a comprehensive look at transportation, which is what I think we’ve been trying to get the University to do all year with the inclement weather last quarter, now with Saferide,” Hinkle said. “We just really want them to take a look at everything as a whole and what they are providing for students.”

Hinkle added that the new SafeRide policy was also instituted in an effort to shorten wait times, which has been successful so far.

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