The Associated Students of CSU voted Wednesday night to expand RamRide operations to Thursday nights, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. preceding weeks of normal Friday to Saturday operation. Only five cars will run Thursday nights, and the expansion is scheduled to begin on Jan 20 – the first Thursday of the Spring semester.
The bill, which was written by Sen. Erik Healey of the College of Natural Sciences, also provided for the addition of three assistant directors to aid RamRide's expansion.
According to Director Brian Hardouin, a survey of the six existing assistant directors resulted in a 4-2 vote against Thursday night rides. But the senate voted differently, after lengthy debate and committee review.
Assistant Director Emily Levi addressed the senate in opposition of the bill, saying she fully supported Thursday-night RamRide but felt that the proposed expansion would be too much, too soon. RamRide has expanded once this semester already, by offering an additional three cars on Friday and Saturday nights – up to 13 from the original 10.
"I don't disagree that we need to expand to Thursday nights," Levi said. "(But) I feel like, at this point, when we've already expanded once this year, we need to focus on securing the 13 cars the two nights we already have. Right now we haven't been able to fill every night with volunteers."
Lack of volunteers has been a key problem for the program, Hardouin said. In fact, the increased number of cars has not been entirely successful, because of a lack of volunteers to drive, navigate and dispatch them.
"We have, for the majority of the semester, not been able to run those extra three cars," he said. "They have sat idle, sometimes even in the Enterprise parking lot."
Tiffany Poppy, assistant director of promotions for RamRide, disagreed with Hardouin.
"We haven't seen a problem with filling the cars," she said. "At first it seemed like it because it was really slow going at the beginning of the semester, (but) then the message got out that RamRide was back."
Poppy said she was confident in the program's ability to expand, and felt that adding Thursday nights was a duty to the student body.
"We have the support right now to do it," she said. "(This is) one of the best opportunities that RamRide may ever have, in terms of expansion."
Jason Huitt, director of information technology, agreed.
"We have the momentum right now to keep going, and I don't think we should stop," he said.
The senate debated changing the bill to end Thursday-night operations at 1 or 1:30 a.m. instead of 2 a.m. but ultimately decided to retain the later time, despite concerns that volunteers would not be able to commit to such late shifts on a school night.
"If you have a class at 8 a.m. in the morning, good luck trying to get through it," Healey said, of volunteers whom he predicted would not be finished working until 2:30 or 3 a.m. Friday morning.
The senate noted that the majority of intoxicated RamRide users would probably be coming from bars on Thursday nights instead of house parties, and considered the timing of last call when making a decision as to how late RamRide would run on Thursdays.
Vice President Ben Goldstein said that a 1:30 a.m. shut-down seemed reasonable to him, since it would coincide with last call, but the senate eventually decided that the difference between a 1:30 and 2 a.m. shut-down would be negligible when considering the potential dangers of intoxicated students not being able to call the service after 1 or 1:30 a.m.
"It just doesn't make any sense to me to move (the shut-down) back to 1 a.m. and leave these people out in the dark – and at this time of year – the cold," Huitt said.
Senator Pete McGuire of the College of Engineering agreed.
"I don't see what the extra harm is in taking five or six more calls in that last half-hour," he said.
Huitt urged the senate to pass the bill or postpone a vote indefinitely, if a rejection was anticipated, to avoid a stance directly opposed to the administration's anticipated request.
Subcommittee Three of the Alcohol Task Force has recommended the expansion of RamRide to Thursday nights, a suggestion the Office of the President is expected to accept and act on. Huitt cautioned the senate against opposing the administration, pointing out that the expansions would likely still occur.
In fact, a senate vote was unnecessary – ASCSU President Katie Clausen could have mandated the expansion with an executive order. But the split among RamRide's assistant directors prompted Clausen to put the issue before the senate and ask for a vote.
"There was enough debate within the department about the decision," she said.