Nite Ride could expand to men


Both parties in the recent UISG election expressed a desire to expand Nite Ride to men, but officials are cautious about potential consequences. 

Nite Ride was intented to be a safe means of transportation for women to prevent sexual assaults. However, some men said they believe the  policy is unfair. 

“Frankly, it sucks,” UI junior Collin Dissette said. “It’s only offered to half the student population and completely biased because it’s a service that can be offered to both sexes but is only offered to one by choice. Guys are in situations where they are far away from home where we don’t have cab money and have to walk all the way across town, sometimes by ourselves.”

He said given the opportunity, he would use the service.

UI freshman Brian Cook said he believes implementing Nite Ride to both sexes would send a message to students that officials care about the safety of men as well as women.

Some female students said the expansion would be fine, provided there were separate buses.

“I think everyone should have the equal opportunity to be safe,” said UI junior Allyson Naeve.

“I think it would take away from the purpose of Nite Ride,” said UI sophomore Sara Lettieri.

Lettieri said it takes away from the message that women needing protection is “something to think about, not your feet.”

UISG Vice President-elect Morgan Brittain said the goal to ensure Nite Ride is available to men and women is to protect men, women, and people of all identities.

According to statistics from the UI police, the service gave 25,931 rides during 2014.

“UI police and other campus officials are always willing to have dialogue with the University of Iowa Student Government and the rest of our student body about issues that concern safety,” said Dave Visin, the Interim assistant vice president for the UI police.

Despite the willingness to discuss the issue, he said, there is a “significant risk” in inviting men to use Nite Ride.

“We believe there is significant risk, especially at night, in dropping males and females off at the same stop,” Visin said. “This practice would open up the possibility for a male passenger, who intends to do a female passenger harm, to follow her to her residence after we’ve provided transportation.”

Brittain said if Nite Ride does become available to men, it would be ideal to have separate buses for men and women to ensure further sexual-assault prevention.

Though men are currently not allowed onto Nite Ride, Visin said if someone of any gender indicates he or she is in distress to a Nite Ride driver, the driver would call for officers and wait until they arrive.

Currently, Nite Ride is funded and run by the Department of Public Safety, and UISG officials hope to communicate with it to increase the number of vehicles running.

Visin said each year, the cost to run each van is $50,618, and each 15-passenger mini-bus costs approximately $54,789.

Sam Wampler, the presidential candidate of the BEACH Party and current UISG speaker of the Senate, said while it’s not an easy feat, it is possible as long as the issue is properly tackled and funding is increased.

“This is something we would have to determine with the University of Iowa Police Department and other organizations to help fund Nite Ride,” Brittain said.

Chris Higgins contributed reporting to this story.

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