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Sorority shuttle service worthy of praise

By Daniel Miller

May 22, 2005 9:00 p.m.

It is easy to make jokes about sorority members doing things
such as the Walk of Shame on their way back from late night
dalliances on fraternity row.

But some sorority members who are not pleased with those
unpleasant walks home or the $5 cab fares have a new option, as
UCLA GAMMA (Greeks Advocating Mature Management of Alcohol) has
recently instituted a program called SAFERIDE.

In short, the program provides transportation between Hilgard
Avenue and Gayley Avenue on Thursday nights, giving sorority
sisters (they aren’t really sisters) a safe and free way to
get back home after parties at fraternities.

SAFERIDE trial runs were conducted on May 12 and 19. Between 10
p.m. and 2 a.m., a van shuttled between the Strathmore and Gayley
avenues intersection in the heart of fraternity row, and the
Hilgard and Manning avenues intersection on sorority row.

SAFERIDE is the brainchild of Sarah McKennan, the UCLA GAMMA
(it’s pretty funny that the acronym spells a Greek letter)
co-chair for the UCLA Panhellenic Council. She said she was tired
of hearing about the difficulty sorority members had when trying to
get home.

“It seemed like a really illogical system where everyone
walked home and taxis were not cooperating with us or were
shady,” said McKennan, a member of the Delta Gamma sorority.
“And I wanted to know why there wasn’t some service
like this.”

McKennan said she is aware of multiple instances of taxi drivers
who have either refused to drive sorority members to their homes or
who have harassed these customers.

“There’s been lots of cases of minor assault, but
recently there was an incident of girls calling a cab and the cab
driver basically harassed them,” said Rob Swenson, a
third-year mechanical engineering student and Phi Kappa Psi
fraternity member who is a co-chair of UCLA GAMMA for the UCLA
Interfraternity Council. “There’s been several muggings
on Hilgard, too.”

Women who used SAFERIDE on the trial runs were pleased with the
program’s efficiency and the safety it provides.

“I’ve used it twice and it was awesome,” said
second-year English student Emily Greenstadt, a member of Delta
Gamma sorority. “The second time it was a pimped out van with
the movie “˜A Few Good Men’ playing. The van had 10
leather bucket seats.”

To me, that just sounds like a sweet van, not a
safety-enforcement tool.

The vans come from Integrated Transportation Service, which also
provides the drivers. The driver of that luxurious vehicle is named
Malcolm.

“Malcolm said he’ll spice the van up for us without
an additional charge because they like us,” McKennan
said.

But just because this service is being offered to partygoers and
features screenings of “A Few Good Men” doesn’t
mean that it’s party time in the vans.

“I don’t think too many guys are going to use it to
hitchhike back to Hilgard, but it’s a possibility,”
third-year economics and sociology student Andrew Ow said.

Ow is right, but let’s be completely clear ““ men
can’t use SAFERIDE.

“Guys can’t use it, and we understand that people
are drinking, but you can’t be puking or going crazy
either,” said McKennan, a second-year economics and European
studies student. “And the driver can turn down anyone or call
the cops.”

Plush vans aside, UCLA GAMMA should be lauded for its efforts to
improve the safety of sorority members. When it often seems the
Greek system only makes news when fraternities and sororities are
put on probation, it is nice to hear about a group run by Greek
students (not student from Greece ““ student from sororities
and fraternities) who are trying to make a difference.

“I really think that around campus people don’t see
the benefits of the Greek system and think that we are only out to
party,” said Ow, a member of the Theta Xi fraternity.
“If some house gets put on probation, that gets on the front
page.”

Well, now this is on the front page.

SAFERIDE will operate this Thursday for its final trial run.
There are no plans for SAFERIDE ninth and 10th week because
apparently finals keep people from partying (not me!). McKennan
plans to work on the program over the summer, so when fall rolls
around, SAFERIDE is in place on a permanent basis ““ and
possibly not just on Thursday nights.

“It was a huge success when I rode around in it,”
McKennan said. “At the end of the night there was always a
group of girls waiting. Nobody was too drunk.”

For the first SAFERIDE trial run, each Panhellenic Council
sorority (there are 11) contributed $35. Last Thursday, the
Panhellenic Council paid for the service, and this week the 11
sororities will again foot the bill. But, McKennan said that UCLA
GAMMA hopes to get funding from the university for the service.

I think SAFERIDE is worthy of UCLA’s financially
support.

Though, the program does bring one question to mind that
concerns me. If SAFERIDE becomes an entrenched part of the UCLA
social scene, what will happen to chivalry if guys cannot walk
their sweethearts home?

“They don’t really anyways,” McKennan
said.

E-mail Miller at [email protected]

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