Castleton University’s Safe Ride program, which gets students home safe from the bar and parties, is having trouble getting volunteers.
While drivers receive $45 for the night of driving, the required passenger is volunteer-based and gets only a $5 voucher to Fireside at the end of the night.
“We’re looking into maybe making it more of an incentive to become a volunteer,” said Colleen Kunz, one of the students in charge of the program.
Safe Ride receives a $4,000 budget each year from the Student Government Association, but the lack of volunteers means the program can’t operate. As a result, the portion of the budget reserved for paying drivers isn’t being used, meaning the volunteer shortage isn’t because of budget problems, but about getting volunteers for a $5 food voucher.
According to Kunz, it has been a struggle so far.
“This semester we’ve only run probably a total of three or four times, and we’re already in the fourth week of school, so that’s a huge issue,” Kunz said. “We’re trying to use our resources as a school … We’re reaching out to Residence Life, reaching out to athletics to see if teams could participate in volunteering, and driving even.”
Former Safe Ride driver Mackenzie O’Connell said he liked driving, but remembered a volunteer shortfall from when he drove too.
“It really wasn’t a bad experience. I had some good conversations behind the wheel,” he said. He described the work as enjoyable, however there was a downside when it came to the volunteer aspect.
“I mean I felt I got paid pretty well, but my friend only got five dollars to Fireside for being the passenger … I had to pay him $15 just so I could drive,” he said.
Essentially, more could be offered to volunteer passengers, but then the idea of giving back in a form of civic engagement is eliminated.
Unfortunately most students aren’t interested in working for free. A handful of students responded with roughly the same answer when asked what could be done to increase Safe Ride volunteer numbers. Freshman Camden Place said he’d be “glad to volunteer if there was more being offered.”