ASNMU considers overseeing Safe Rides Program

Amanda Monthei

by Amanda Monthei and Nathan Hale

Among the topics discussed at Monday night’s ASNMU general assembly meeting, the establishment of a Safe Rides Program for students was the source of most discussion.

The program was put in place by Relevant Campus Ministries seven years ago in order to provide sober rides home on two weekends of the year for any student who may need it.  While the organization is currently running Safe Rides on only two weekends (Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day) during the school year, Monday night’s discussion explored the potential of ASNMU overseeing the program in the future.

Deb Heino, who began the Safe Rides program through Relevant Campus Ministries, said that ASNMU having control over the program may make it more accessible to Northern students.

“We felt like having the association with a ministry really scared students into avoiding our services,” she said. “We don’t judge. We never push our beliefs on others. We are simply there to get you home.”

However, one of the specified rules of the program is that students must dispose of all open beverages before entering the Safe Rides car.

“We don’t want to put our volunteers or passengers in danger,” Heino said.

Volunteers, safety issues and other logistics were among the things discussed at the ASNMU briefing on the program, which is the second time this semester that the program has been discussed in general assembly.

Members of the assembly posed questions concerning volunteers, unruly passengers (of which there has only been one requiring police intervention in the seven years since the program started, according to Heino), as well as ways to raise money and make sure only students are using the service. Liability was of utmost concern to the assembly and its advisers in the event of an accident.

“I’m going to talk to (university risk management), and if they are willing to put their seal of approval on it, I think we’re going to take it on,” ASNMU President Ben Stanley said. “If they say the risk is simply unmanageable, then we’re just not going to take it on. We can’t afford the risk.”

Concerns also turned to the issue of confidentiality and the “promotion” of drinking, underage or otherwise.

Heino said the organization has upheld a promise of confidentiality in the past, and that any future programs would practice the same procedure.

“We’ve actually gotten into hot water with coaches on the campus asking us about their players,” she said. “We cannot give out any information regarding any of our students that use Safe Rides.”

The potential for disassociation between the Safe Rides program and a faith-based campus organization has been received indifferently by some students who may not have known it existed, but still plan to use the program in the future.

“I really think I would have been comfortable either way,” sophomore zoology major Jacob Nyquist said. “In actuality, the reason I really haven’t used this program before is because I had no idea it existed.”

Another topic discussed at the ASNMU general assembly meeting on Monday night was a plan to get ASNMU-labeled green books—which are used at a teacher’s request for written exams—for students to use for free. Stanley said that he was considering the possibility of purchasing a flat-screen TV in lieu of a glass case in the University Center, which would be used for announcements, highlighting other campus organizations and playing videos, according to Stanley. Finding and interviewing new members was also a main concern at the meeting.

“We are meeting again this Friday either at 9 a.m. or 11 a.m., whichever works best,” Stanley said. “We’re going to have another vice president nomination and we’re also going start the appointments committee.

“This weekend, we’ll do interviews with all the applicants for ASNMU positions and have appointments on Monday. If everything works out, we may have a full board for the first time in a long time.”

Following the appointment of several members to the student senate, Stanley again made a motion for the appointment of general studies representative Wesley Reiber to the vice president position, which was voted down by the assembly.