Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media
This weekend, hundreds of Ole Miss students are sure to get home safely from the Oxford Square, thanks to a non-profit organization called Safe Ride.
Every day in the U.S., an estimated 30 individuals are killed in alcohol-related car accidents, according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Christine Pham, a member of the Students for Safe Ride committee at Ole Miss, hopes to see these numbers decrease.
“We want everyone to know that free and safe transportation is available to and from the Square on weekends,” says Pham.
But it’s going to take some work to keep Safe Ride running. As of now, the university pays for 75 percent of the services provided by Cline Tours, which provides Safe Ride with buses. Over the next few years, the university plans to decrease the organization’s funding to 25 percent before eventually cutting funding altogether. Safe Ride’s ultimate goal is to become financially independent.
This year’s Safe Ride fundraising event, “Going up on a Taco Tuesday,” was held at South Depot Taco Shop on the Square. The group raised around $500 for the organization. Mitch Taylor, a current sophomore at Ole Miss, was among many who attended the event.
“It was a great time,” says Taylor. “I honestly didn’t expect to see so many people at the fundraiser, but it was a lot of fun, and overall I think it was a success.”
But more success is needed. The monthly operating budget for Safe Ride is around $7,000 and will only continue to increase as the organization begins to offer alternate routes for students living off-campus.
Shelby Dennis, an off-campus resident and avid Safe Ride user, appreciates the services provided by the organization. “It’s a great way to get to and from the Square,” says Dennis. “I think students should realize the dangers of drinking and driving and utilize the Safe Ride buses whenever possible. It’s free and convenient, so why not?”
The good news for the program is that students more than ever before are agreeing with Dennis. The number of students utilizing the Safe Ride service has nearly doubled in numbers within the past year.
“A lot of people just want their voice to be heard,” says Pham regarding the drastic increase in Safe Ride involvement.
The buses make frequent on-campus stops, including Sorority Row, Fraternity Row, and the majority of dormitories found on campus. Buses typically run from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., Thursday through Saturday, and rides are free with a valid student ID.