By Zachary Thomas
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Picture yourself drunk at a party without a reliable ride. You want to get home safely.
Student Lifeline, a free emergency ride program for students run by a New York based company, could have provided some.
However, unless the university coughs up $25,000 up front, the company will not serve the UA campus.
"I feel very compelled to make it available to this school," said Richard Signarino, a UA alum and CEO of Student Lifeline, Inc., a company which serves 1.2 million students in the Northeastern United States. However, based on "certain negative possibilities out of town, we must protect our program from future exposure beyond our natural boundaries."
Funded by local advertisements on the back of a free membership ID card, Student Lifeline, Inc. contracts with local taxi companies to provide rides only to a student's home address, provided on the card. Statistics indicate that drunk driving deaths have decreased to zero in some communities under this program, Signarino said.
The service recently received national attention after students abused it during its first out-of-state venture at Tufts University in Boston. Now it wants to ensure that the same will not happen at the UA, Signarino said.
"The [Boston] cab company reported that dozens and dozens were using this service rather than taking public transportation," Signarino said. "This kind of misuse will only allow the program to extinguish."
The rejection comes despite efforts by Associated Students Undergraduate Senator Jonathan Bierner and ASUA adviser Jim Drnek to bring the service here.
To avoid misuse, Drnek and Bierner proposed that Lifeline cards be issued to students and then collected by the cab company on each trip. The Dean of Students Office would then meet with the student and review the trip before the card was returned.
"There is no more compromise whatsoever," Drnek said, after speaking with Signarino yesterday. "I thought we figured out a way around this, but his concern was [still] abuse of cards."
After a yearlong effort by Bierner to get the program at the UA, Student Lifeline's refusal of services comes as a shock, he said.
"I think it's unfortunate that I've put a lot of my time into this," he said. "It just goes back to what you see is not always what you get."
Bierner now plans to put all his energies into the Under-21 club, another venture which will provide alcohol-free social activities for UA students.
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