By Kyle Robinson
Pic: Jane van Doorene
Alcohol Awareness Week kicked into action on Monday, 23 February with the ‘Get Home Safe’ project, launched by Dean of Students Professor Vivian de Klerk. This new initiative aims to provide free transport back home to students who are in need of assistance after a big night out and is intended to promote the responsible use of alcohol.
Both De Klerk and Pamela Pierce, the Dean of Students (DoS) Office Administrator whose job it is to monitor the success of the project, emphasised that this is not a normal transport service. It is to be used as a last resort when a student is in some kind of emergency, such as being severely intoxicated. De Klerk said, “We don’t want students to plan to use the ‘Get Home Safe’ service to get home. It is not to be a regular taxi service.”
The transport consists of a single 12-seater minibus, which is operated by six teams of two student drivers (one male and one female), with two reserve drivers, who rotate fortnightly. The drivers were selected by the DoS and the SRC from hundreds of applicants. The shuttles will run every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night and drivers will be on standby to receive calls between 22h00 and 03h00.
After two years of discussion and planning, De Klerk thanked the ARA (Association for Responsible Alcohol Use) who sponsored the project by giving R60 000 a year for three years to Rhodes University. Liezle Cameron, the Liaison Officer for ARA, said, “We want people to use our product responsibly.”
The Data Management Unit has provided the DoS with a system which records the times students make use of the service. If someone uses it on an alarming regularity then there will be an ‘educational intervention,’ which, depending on the level of seriousness, will include meetings with the resident warden or with the Dean of Students. This could result in various forms of community service. There have, however, been worries that this will only deter students from using the service.
Garnet Ndlovu, one of the drivers, said he was excited to help out. “I’ve seen the abuse of alcohol, I’m not against drinking, but it becomes detrimental if it affects studies and social life,” commented Ndlovu. Another driver, Guy Martin, a third year student, said, “It’s not just a job, it’s also about educating people.”
All the drivers participated in a day of training, where they were shown the statistics from the alcohol usage survey conducted last year, given a basic first aid course and even instructed in self-defence. Many students are excited by the project. Asanda Mbatsha, a first year, said, “It’s dangerous at night, you know. You get drunk, you come back late from clubs. It’s a good initiative.”
To make use of the service or find out more, call 084 869 9679.