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The Antelope

The Antelope

SafeRide program ends with Kearney Cab Company 

The UNK Police Department encourages students to call them for rides during emergencies. Photo illustration by Kolton Maturey / Antelope Staff

SafeRide program for UNK students no longer exists. The Kearney Cab Company that provided the service went out of business in August. 

Wendy Schardt, director of Student Health and Counseling, explained that there isn’t a replacement. 

“Right now, we don’t really have anything in place,” Schardt said. “So, it’s just a matter of students really making smart decisions about when they’re going out to drink and line up a driver.” 

The Health Promotion office and Student Engagement started the program in 2019 to prevent drunk driving. The office partnered with the Kearney Cab Company to give students free rides back to their place of residence. SafeRide operated on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights. 

Without SafeRide, there is no university-hosted transportation for students. There is a public transportation system, RYDE Transit, that provides bus rides for citizens in Buffalo County. There are also Uber and Lyft drivers in Kearney, but they are not monitored by UNK.

Schardt questioned the security of these services for students. 

“I don’t think students should rely on the ride bus for this kind of program,” Schardt said. “I would encourage students not to rely on Uber or Lyft because I don’t know how reliable they are, if it’s just one person doing it, if they only do it on certain nights…” 

While there isn’t a current ride system in place, the UNK Police Department encourages students to call them if they need a ride during an emergency. They will not report intoxicated students who are 21 and receive a ride, unless the student participates in disorderly conduct. 

UNK’s “Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report” it states that it is against the law for a person under the age of 21 years to consume alcohol. Underage students who are intoxicated must be reported by UNK Police, but the law provides immunity from minor in possession charges when someone is underage and in need of medical attention. 

Chief Jim Davis of UNK PD emphasizes that the UNK Police Department’s main concern is overall safety. 

 “If any of our students get in a jam, where they feel scared or threatened, they can give us a call,” Davis said. “I don’t care what part of Kearney you’re in, my guys and gals will come get you.”

The Health Promotion office is planning to meet with Student Government to discuss implementing a new transportation system for students. The office will ensure security with the future program by conducting criminal background checks and examining driving records. 

As of now, students are recommended to have a designated driver if they plan on drinking in public. UNK PD is available for emergency rides but not for casual use. 

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