Nov 092005
Authors: Lee Newville

It's 1 a.m. and you've waited an hour for the RamRide you called in for. Somebody who volunteers for the program calls in after you and gets priority over your ride. Would you be in favor of this policy?

The Associated Students of CSU senate debated Wednesday on a new proposed policy for RamRide that would reward repeat volunteers with priority rides.

The proposal, called "Thank you rides," was initiated as part of an effort to increase the number of volunteers by providing an incentive for prospective volunteers. The RamRide program frequently suffers from volunteer shortages.

Volunteers who worked a certain number of eight-hour shifts – the critical point was tentatively fixed at three – would receive a code for their complimentary priority ride. That code would not be transferable to other individuals.

Committee members quickly initiated a heated debate over whether the program would conflict with the "nonjudgmental" policy of RamRide.

"I feel this is completely going against the nonjudgmental basis of this program," Assistant Director of Advocacy Thea Rinard said. "One of my concerns is that, though we may not see it as a judgment, if we start making alternations right now to the program what does that bring to the future with possibly making other judgments?"

Others countered that the program had nothing to do with the nonjudgmental policy because that policy was only meant to defer RamRide operators from refusing rides to individuals participating in questionable activities.

"We're not judging those who don't volunteer, we're rewarding those individuals who do," said natural sciences senator Erik Healey. "I think it's about time to give those volunteers an incentive to volunteer."

Another logistical issue brought up was how to determine who would be eligible for the "Thank you rides." Many senators, along with ASCSU President Courtney Healey, agreed that the program should not apply to ASCSU members, who are mandated to volunteer for the program under their job description. Some also wanted to extend this to those who were ordered to volunteer for the program.

"It will be hard to judge who is doing it for the right reasons that we should thank them for," said RamRide director Kevin McBeth, noting that people volunteer for class, community service requirements and other reasons.

Others worried that excluding certain volunteers would lead to unethical and unfair exclusions.

Tommy Miles, RamRide assistant directors argued that wait times would be lengthened further by incorporating priority rides, which would lead to an unfair disadvantage for non-volunteers.

"I don't know how we can justify to them to say, 'hey, the reason your ride was so late was because other people volunteered,'" Miles said.

Some senators also expressed concern that longer wait periods may put individuals, especially females, in vulnerable situations or in danger.

Senator Rinard rhetorically asked how the program would affect "a female student who is in a dangerous situation and needs a ride home as soon as possible. You're making her wait longer because you are possibly giving priority to someone else."

However, ASCSU Vice President Jon Muller argued that, in theory, because the program would attract more volunteers, wait times would decrease in general and long wait periods may no longer be an issue.

"Right now we don't give emergency rides," senator Healey said. "If someone says they are in an emergency we advise that they call 911 so they can get there faster than us."

President Healey said the recommendations and concerns would be brought to the attention of RamRide before any policy decisions are made.

"It is a good idea," said intra-university senator Nick Thomas. "I would just implore you to be careful."

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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