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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    CatsRidde waiting for admin approval

    It’s a program we really need to give students and it can really take the guesswork out of poor decisions – Ashley Eden, ASUA Senator

    The fate of CatsRidde, a club designed to prevent unsafe and drunken driving on the weekends, hinges on approval by the Dean of Students’ Office and UA attorneys who have debated the program’s launch since September.

    Though not all the details are in place for “”Cats Realizing the Importance of a Designated Driving Escort,”” new changes have been pinned down since last semester, said organizers, who hope CatsRidde becomes an Associated Students of the University of Arizona program by the end of the month.

    The program was originally designed to be free of charge to model a similar program that started at Texas A&M University, but liability concerns raised by UA attorneys resulted in a $5-per-semester fee in the plan, said ASUA Sen. Ryan Montana Erickson, the chairman of finances for CatsRidde.

    Users must also be UA students and sign a waiver before being allowed to use the service, which would run Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

    “”We’re trying to get past all the bureaucracy and waivers to get approved as an ASUA program,”” said Jeremy Sasser, director of operations for CatsRidde and one of the program’s founders.

    Because of insurance and liability issues, however, Erickson said CatsRidde drivers would not pick up students who haven’t already signed the waiver and paid the $5 fee.

    CatsRidde would operate much like ASUA SafeRide by using university-owned vehicles to transport students to their places of residence or to campus as long as they present their CatCards upon pick-up. The program would use the same pick-up and drop-off boundaries as SafeRide.

    To prevent “”misconduct,”” however, Erickson said one male and one female employee would be required to either drive or sit in the front passenger seat, leaving three available seats for students in the back.

    Sasser, a physiology senior, said he hopes the program will deter students from driving drunk or getting in the car with a drunken driver once they realize they have other means of transportation.

    Other members agreed, saying though many students at the UA are responsible people, a program like CatsRidde can help them make the right decision when tempted to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

    “”It’s a program we really need to give students and it can really take the guesswork out of poor decisions,”” said ASUA Sen. Ashley Eden, who has been helping with planning since last year. “”Everyone believes this program can be a success. It’s a long time coming.””

    Sasser said he hopes students would use the service because the one-time $5 fee “”pays for itself”” in comparison to taxi rides.

    The program would operate mainly on a $5,000 donation made by Finley Distributing Company, a Tucson-based beer distributor.

    Erickson said charging students the one-time $5 fee will help CatsRidde prosper because he admits the donation provided by Finley will be used quickly.

    Because the vehicles are owned by MotorPool, a UA vehicle rental division under Facilities Management, the UA plans to charge $30 for each car used and 14 cents per mile on top of gas costs.

    There were earlier plans to use cars provided by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, but they eventually settled on working directly with MotorPool, said Eden, a public administration senior.

    Student drivers would be covered by the UA volunteer insurance policy and the users would be covered by the same policy as all passengers of MotorPool vehicles, said Eden, who added that she would have the exact wording of the waiver later this week.

    Erickson said members of the organization plan to brainstorm ways to solicit interest to students through residence halls, greek houses, club and department Listservs and bars on North Fourth Avenue, which he said would be prime real estate for inebriated students on the weekend.

    Erickson said the group members also hope to have a street team hand out fliers on Fourth Avenue to promote the service in addition to advertising in bars.

    “”We’re not there to be police and so we will give rides to students no matter what condition they are in,”” said Erickson, a public management and policy junior.

    If the progam starts and succeeds, Erickson said he wants the “”pilot program”” to be expanded to run on both Fridays and Saturdays next semester.

    Drivers would be able to drive west as far as North Fourth Avenue and as far east as North Campbell Avenue. East Grant Road would be the farthest north and East Sixth Street would be the farthest south a driver could take students, Erickson said.

    Joshua Wright, director of SafeRide, said he’s been available to talk to members of CatsRidde and is in full support of the program, adding “”it would be a complimentary service to ours,”” which isn’t open on Saturdays.

    “”We’ve always wanted to give students who have been drinking a better option and alternative, and I think this program can provide that outlet,”” said Wright, a public management and policy graduate student.

    Like any new start-up program, Wright said CatsRidde will go through hurdles in order to become a successful program.

    “”They seem to have very committed team leaders who are dedicated to the project’s success,”” he said.

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