Need a Free Ride? UCOSA Hires Uber

Need a Free Ride? UCOSA Hires Uber

UCOSA has partnered with Uber to provide students with free and safe rides to and from campus. UCO students can download the Uber app and enter the code “UCORIDES” for the campus’s safe ride option. Photo by Cara Johnson, The Vista. 

The University of Central Oklahoma’s Student Association (UCOSA) spent $20,000 dollars on partnership with the ride-share program Uber this fall to provide students with a free ride when they might need it.

“Whether their plans involve a big night out or they just need a late night ride home from the library, a safe ride is now available at the tap of a button,” said David Brightman, Uber’s general manager.

The idea of implementing a safe ride program at UCO has been discussed for the past four years, but UCOSA contacted Uber last semester and found funding to test out the program, according to Vice President of Student Life, Cole Stanley.

“They [UCOSA] were thinking, ‘is there anything we could be doing to save even one life?'” Stanley said.

UCOSA is funded by student activity fees, which every student pays for each credit hour they take, that the university receives at the beginning of each semester. Student activity fees also go to funding other areas of campus life.

The allocation of student activity fees is broken down into four areas including athletics, allocations to student organizations, university-wide projects, such as the UCO Debate Team, Kaleidoscope Dancers, and the Division of Student Affairs, which funds offices such as the Student Engagement Office and the Office of Greek and Sorority Life.

UCOSA has a $138,256 budget that goes to the day by day operations of running organizations such as student workers as well as leadership conferences. UCOSA also allocates some of its budget to a “High Impact Program” fund which they use to accomplish large projects on campus.

UCOSA has designated $20,000 of its “High Impact Program” money to test out the Uber program this fall. Once that $20,000 used up, UCOSA will decide whether or not the program was successful enough to try to identify funds to keep the it going.

“I think it’s great so students will have access to safe rides. I don’t have a car, so it’s also great for me if I need to go to Walmart or something, but don’t have time to walk,” UCO sophomore Amber Jackson said.

Some students are less excited than others about the partnership because of how it’s funded.

“I already disagree with the concept of being forced to pay student activity fees if they [students] aren’t going to participate in those activities,” UCO junior Foster Gibbs said. “And now I’m being told that my money is going to subsidize other students’ partying and drinking. Which of my personal behaviors do I have the right to expect other people to pay for?”

Students can utilize the program Thursday through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. However, the program will not be available any time classes are out of session, for example, New Years.

Students can use Uber for a ride, amounting to $20, free of charge within the designated zone which extends from Covell Road to the north, Interstate 40 to the south, and Interstate 30 to the east.

Rides in excess of $20 or traveling outside of the designated zone will be charged to the card attached to the student’s Uber account.

On the programs opening weekend, 495 students used their UCO promocode to sign up for the services and 120 rides were requested. The average cost of each ride was $10 bringing the total amount of funds used opening weekend to about $1,200.

“The members of UCOSA last year really wanted to look at things they could do to impact UCO students in a way that is tangible,” Stanley said.

To use the program students need to download the Uber app and sign up for an account using their UCO.edu email address. Enter the code “UCORIDES” to unlock UCO’s safe ride option.

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