Safe Ride lack helpers, Choma concerned about its future

Its Thursday night, you and your friends have had a couple laughs as well as a couple beers and now its time to go to the bar. Forgetting anything? How about the designated driver? Every Thursday is the busiest drinking night of the week. Students travel to The Dog from campus or two friends’ apartments to shoot some pool and have a good time.

But what happens when the night is over and you need a ride home? Some students choose to walk home, others plan ahead and have some one pick them up and many choose to call the Castleton State College ride service called Safe Ride.

But a lack of volunteers has hindered Safe Rides availability, which leaves students asking questions and might put them in unsafe situations.

Safe Ride was implemented 10 years by Deb Choma, a nurse at the Wellness Center. The program was started in honor of her nephew who was killed by a drunk driver.

Safe Ride is coordinated by Choma to provide safe transportation for students who have too much to drink and need a safe ride home from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

The beauty of this program is that Castleton State College students volunteer to help others. Recently, however, Choma has had to pay students to get the van on the road. A serious lack of volunteers has slowed down the program’s availability, which has led to some hostility from the students.

“Every Thursday night I call to check and it seems Safe Ride just does not run anymore” Castleton student Bridget Doody replied when asked if she ever uses it. “I have used Safe Ride in the past and they have helped me and my friends, but where is Safe Ride now?”

This question has been a hot topic for many Castleton students, but apparently the only people students can blame are themselves. When asked why there is a lack of volunteers Choma was perplexed.

“I don’t know. I look at the upper class for help thinking they will pay back Safe Ride for the years of service provided for them,” she said.

Choma blames the lack of volunteers in part on changes made to fleet license requirements.

“Ever since we changed the fleet license from 18 to 21 there has been a drop off,” she said.

Choma even goes as far as to talk to every FYS class asking to future help. Castleton athletic teams have also mentioned volunteering for a night, but the only team to step up to the plate has been the men’s baseball team.

Safe Ride is run by students to teach them to be responsible and is unique among area schools, Choma said.

“When I first got here, everyone said don’t worry we can call Safe Ride. I thought it was awesome a van could come and pick you up when you need a ride home. My last school had nothing like that” transfer student Devin Wood said.

Castleton students apparently have taken for granted the benefits Safe Ride has provided for students as well as other drivers on the road. Volunteers are a must if it is to continue, Choma said, adding that she’s looking to the senior class to turn it around.

“If, say, half the senior class would volunteer one night for four hours, the whole year would be covered,” she said.

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