Despite student outcry, University plans to move forward with Via deal


Source: Caroline Hawkins

A Via vehicle. Although students have reacted negatively to the University’s partnership with the ride share service, which will replace Safe Ride, Northwestern administrators still plan to finalize the deal.

Cameron Cook, Web Editor

Northwestern still plans to strike a deal with the ride share service Via this fall despite students’ negative reactions to the plan.

The agreement with Via is still in the works, Jim Roberts, the executive director for division services, told The Daily on Wednesday. Under the terms of the partnership, Via would replace Safe Ride — a free ride sharing service staffed by students — with its own cars and drivers.

Safe Ride employees were alerted last week to the change, and some expressed dismay that they will not be able to find sufficient employment to replace their Safe Ride jobs, although ex-Safe Ride employees are being offered positions elsewhere in the Division of Student Affairs.

Students responded to the news by organizing an email campaign and template, from which Roberts said he has received about 125 emails.

The emails call for “further details explaining the incoming contract with Via” and for administrators to take action regarding the financial security of the ex-Safe Ride employees by the end of August.

“This last-minute announcement–within the context of numerous student calls for administrative transparency–is disrespectful and unacceptable,” the email template reads. “Specifically, we demand the University ensure students will be returning to campus with jobs with similar perks that came with (Safe Ride).”

Roberts declined to discuss the details of the Via deal because it hasn’t yet been finalized, and did not respond directly to a question about what, if anything, could lead to the University reversing the decision. Student Affairs is “actively working” to find the student employees other jobs, he added.

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