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A Safe Ride for All

Parul Deora, outgoing Undergraduate Association vice president, thinks that giving a small population of MIT students a lift across the Harvard Bridge during the day is “the perfect way to spend student life money.”

Sure, daytime SafeRide service would be available only in winter months -- November through March, excluding IAP -- and it would make a lot of fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, and ILGers warmer. Even in less severe conditions than we saw in the last months, 364.4 smoots plus an ear can make for a pretty unpleasant walk. But before we feel too sorry for those across the Charles River, let’s think about another population who has an even more unpleasant walk home late at night.

While the exact numbers are not known, thousands of MIT graduate students live off campus, often a half-hour walk or more from their laboratories and offices. These members of the MIT community work long hours and then, under the present arrangement, either walk home or take a cab through an area that is universally either deserted or populated by questionable characters. Lest anyone think it’s not so bad, just recall that a graduate student was stabbed not long ago on Prospect Street, part of a major path to graduate students’ homes near Central and Inman Squares.

So if MIT is going to spend money on expanding SafeRide, why should it go to providing a comfortable ride first? Some will argue that MIT spends a lot of money on comfort. The Spring Weekend events, for example, sets MIT back more than the $30,000 or so that daytime service will likely cost, and Spring Weekend is an important and fun MIT tradition. We might debate the importance of such traditions, but that isn’t really the point. It’s fine to spend money on daytime service, but SafeRide should be safe for all before it provides extra comfort for a few -- a few who already enjoy a luxury that much of the MIT community does not. If we’re going to spend money on SafeRide, we should spend it first on keeping graduate students safe. To do otherwise is to add insult to injury.

With that in mind, The Tech would like to make a suggestion to the graduate student population. About ten years ago, before SafeRide existed, the MIT Police gave about 6,000 escorts home every year. The MIT Police, in principle, still offer this service. Graduate students should take advantage of this service whenever they feel like it. Don’t take a cab, don’t walk home, don’t hitch a ride, don’t ride a bike. Get an escort, and show MIT and MIT’s undergraduates how big a deal this is. Where there is demand, a solution (may) appear. So, graduate students, start demanding a safe ride home.

This editorial was approved by a vote of 4-3.