Why we need a campus shuttle

EMILY SHANE ‘17

Managing Editor

While walking through the woods, up the poorly-lit stairs behind Mulberry after a late night screening at the Cinema House, I sometimes wonder why Denison hasn’t followed its peers in adopting a late-night shuttle.

For example, Vassar College, with 2,450 students has a shuttle that operates 6pm and 2am, Sunday to Thursday evenings, and an extra hour on Friday and Saturdays because, according to their website, “members of the community are advised not to walk alone during the evening hours.”

I’m not the first to suggest this change on campus. A December 2014 senate resolution written by Jackson Wu-Pong ‘15, Jill Weeks ‘15, Andrew Watkins ‘15 and Darcey Babikian ‘15 proposed changing the Safe Ride program to make it a reliable, consistent shuttle.

Two years later, Ashley Bartreau ‘16 and Olivia Ireland ‘17 wrote a resolution that was co-sponsored by 106 students. It again proposed a late-night shuttle because of the ineffectiveness of the current Safe Ride system.

The data collected by the Office of Student Development that is available on myDenison show that some students feel unsafe on campus and think a shuttle would help allay their fears.

According to the Spring 2015 National College Health Assessment, 96% of women feel very safe while on Denison’s campus during the day. When asked how they felt at night, only 48% felt very safe, while 43% only felt somewhat safe. Also in the spring, the Your First College Year Survey found that 4.4% of female respondents frequently felt unsafe on campus and 18.9% occasionally felt unsafe. The male students also report feeling less safe at night than during the day, although to lesser extent.

Then, “recalling data from a Spring 2015 survey in which 8% of Denison students reported feeling unsafe on campus at night, questions was included in the March 2016 Student Experiences Survey, asking why Denison was unsafe. “Lack of safe rides” was one of the answers, and a “Shuttle that provides transportation” was one of the suggested ways to make the campus more safe at night.

Having a shuttle presents problem. Who would pay for it? Who would drive the shuttle? Would it encourage drinking? Those are all questions that need to be addressed.

However, it is clear that while students, including myself, feel that overall Denison is a safe campus, there are times when we hesitate walking by ourselves to certain places during the night, and a campus shuttle would provide safe transportation in those situations.

Students have repeatedly said, through DCGA and campus surveys, that they want a late-night shuttle on campus, and it is time that the administration listens.