Editorial: Baylor needs an off-campus safe driving program

The night of Oct. 29, students received a text from the university.

It said that an armed man was being sought by police near campus. Later reports from the police said that shots were fired in the incident.

This incident eerily echoed the string of robberies in the area during the 2011-2012 school year.

Taking all these incidents into account, it would be reasonable to assume that the university is taking steps toward increased security on and around campus.

And for the most part this is true, but there is one are that we are not addressing — getting people home at night.

If there are fewer people on the streets then there are fewer opportunities for Baylor students to get robbed or worse.

There are the Safety and Security Education Officers who keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and give students rides to residential communities. However, they are limited in where they can take students after-hours.

In 2005, Baylor had a service called The Ride. If a student felt unsafe between the hours of 5 p.m. and midnight, he or she could call this service, and a van would take the student to where their desired destination within one mile from campus.

The service was widely used, but on the Baylor website, there is no evidence of the program existing after 2006.

If it does still exist, it needs to be better publicized.

If it doesn’t exist anymore, not only does this program need to be reinstated, but it also needs to be expanded.

Student safety should be a top priority for Baylor. With the expansion of campus upcoming, the end-to-end campus walk at night will not be ideal.

Students that have to make that late walk to a point off campus are currently being told “good luck,” and their safety is being left to chance.

That shouldn’t be the case. An unsafe campus, or the appearance of an unsafe campus, limits a university’s success because prospective students and parents won’t think highly of a school that doesn’t have measures in place to give students a safe ride home.

Expanding the program to a sober driving program is also a smart measure, and many schools have similar programs that keep students safe.

The University of Texas has the E-Bus. The University of Missouri has Stripes. Texas A&M has the CARPOOL program. Colorado State has RamRide. All of these programs offer students free rides home on weekends to help lower drunk-driving accidents and keep students safe. The idea isn’t ground-breaking.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10,228 people in 2010 were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Students that don’t have safe rides home are being put at risk to add to statistics like these.

Pretending that students don’t drink is not how a school should deal with the problem.

Maybe Baylor doesn’t agree with alcohol consumption, but the school has a responsibility to keep its students safe. Moral disagreement needs to be put aside when it comes to saving students’ lives.

Baylor would also need to refrain from reprimanding students that use the service. If students know that Baylor is going to reprimand everyone that uses the service after drinking, then they would be persuaded to drive under the influence, and that defeats the whole purpose of the program.

The sole purpose of the program would have to be to give students a safe ride home, not a safe ride to another bar or party.

The program would also help students who don’t drink, but don’t completely trust the person giving them a ride. Sometimes good people are put in bad situations, and having a sober driving program would keep students safe.

This isn’t something that should be put on the back burner. A sober driving program, or an expanded safe ride program, should be implemented as a preventative measure, not a reactionary one.

Students need a place to go for a safe, off-campus ride, and the university needs to provide that before we have to mourn the passing of someone in our Baylor family.