Escort van defect causes ASUA feud

By Christie S. Peterson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The ASUA Escort Service's van is used to transport disabled students as well as those worried about their personal safety at night.

However, the van itself may not be safe.

A gas leak recently landed Tim Walker, a volunteer who had been driving the van, in the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning. The 1987 Nissan van is also under a manufacturer's recall because of possible engine fires.

The gas leak in the van has been repaired and the service was told by University of Arizona Risk Management that they could continue to operate despite the recall if they carried a fire extinguisher and posted a sign notifying passengers of the risk.

Risk Management Director Steven Holland said he has no recollection of the incident, but said that normal procedure would call for repair of whatever caused the recall, if driving conditions warranted it.

This has not done much to assuage the concerns of the Escort Service staff.

"There is a downward sloping confidence in that vehicle," Escort Service Director Greg Gemson told the Undergraduate Senate. "Volunteers don't want to drive it."

Therefore, the senate unanimously approved $683 on Friday for the rental of a UA Chevrolet Lumina sedan to be used in place of the van for the rest of the semester, until a new one is purchased this summer.

The process of buying a new van to replace the Escort Service van, a used vehicle bought in the late '80s, has taken almost a year.

"All of these problems with the van could have been prevented the hospitalization and everything if the Escort Service's attempts to process a requisition for a new van were not halted by ASUA Presi

dent T.J. Trujillo ... on several occasions in October and December," Gemson said.

Trujillo admits to postponing a December requisition for one week, so that an investigation could be made into the possibility of receiving funds from the UA Alumni Association for a new van, but denies doing so in October.

He said the reason for the delay was due to "a lack of follow-through by (Gemson) and Vice President Kawamura." He said the pair "sat on it" (the possibility of approaching the Alumni Association) for over a semester and did not act in a "timely manner."

Trujillo attempted to improve the situation last week when he proposed to the Senate that the $25,000 in the Escort Service account be moved to the ASUA general account. He said the Senate could then appropriate it.

However, the Senate unanimously rejected the proposal later in the week at a 7 a.m. meeting which Trujillo did not attend.

Senate chair Brad Milligan said it failed because the $25,000 is federal money given to the school to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act through the Escort Service, and to transfer the money would be illegal because the Senate could then "reallocate it to pretty much anything."

The money remains in the Escort Service account, and will pay for a new van which should be in operation by next semester.

Gemson said that despite turmoil with the van, Escort Service has continued to operate, and the nighttime Safe-Ride program transports 40 to 50 people every evening.

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