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Student Senate declines support for Zimride

May 5, 2011

Student Senate declined to support a ride-share plan because of safety and other concerns, said Facilities and Fees Chair Beth DeLong.

Zimride is a ride-share program that can be utilized on Facebook and Twitter. 

Its benefits include eliminating need for extensive parking permits, helps build relationships and allows students to save money by carpooling, according to the April 12 Student Senate meeting presentation.

Four schools in the UW System utilize the program, including UW-La Crosse, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Whitewater.  Students can log onto their Facebook or Twitter account and map out their drive with a start and end location and time. 

Zimride offers full control of the information that gets shared and the opportunity to rate the driver and the passenger, according to the presentation.

UW-Oshkosh student senator Devin Hagan gave his input on the Zimride program as a part of the UW-Oshkosh campus.

“I feel it’s a good investment overall for campuses to implement ride sharing programs,” Hagan said. 

Hagan began using this program via Facebook prior to owning a car and before it came to the UW-Oshkosh campus.  He did caution about a few potential risks.

“A few potential risks worth considering include safety and liability of car accident and injuries, whether it is on Zimride, the UW school or the driver,” Hagan said.

UW-La Crosse student senator Jacob Boll said he believes UW-La Crosse students utilize their ride boards more often than Zimride.

“As to my knowledge, it is not all that well used at least by upperclassmen like myself,” Boll said.  “We have two ride boards on campus that have many postings of riders and drivers that is filled often. This service is free and likely just as useful as Zimride. Students are more comfortable posting contact information on a sheet of paper on a board than posting it online.”

On April 19, Senate passed a motion, declining the support of Zimride either financially or logistically, however senate was in favor of conducting further research on other options.

“The Student Association Student Senate supports the Sustainability Working Groups initiative to simplify commuting and ride-sharing and will assist in researching other methods to meet said initiative,” according to the motion.

There were many concerns voiced by senators during the presentation, which focused on safety.

“There’s no control with the safety of it because it’s a social media site,” said DeLong.  “It works like Facebook, you can set what people see and set your own pictures.  Then once you get in a car with them, it’s out of the student’s control.”

“I don’t believe it is safe,” Student Senate President Tyler Halverson said.  “I don’t want students to be put into that situation.”

A three-year subscription to use the Zimride application via Facebook and Twitter would cost $12,000.

“It’s a three-year commitment.  If we don’t like it after a year, we’re stuck with it for another two and we don’t want to put ourselves in that situation,” DeLong said.

Past Allocable Fee Appropriation Board Chair Jordan Harshman voiced his concerns for other reasons.

“I don’t think campus wants it.  I also don’t think there has been enough surveys done to suggest the campus needs it,” he said.

Senate has plans in place to look into additional options for carpooling. 

“We can make our ride board more efficient and save money there,” DeLong said.  “We have a fabulous technology department that could work on this.”