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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Remarks at Safe Ride Launch

Category: University Events
February, 2018
Off-Campus Commons

Safe Ride Launch

Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Welcome, everyone.

I am so delighted to join you for the launch of our Safe Ride program.

With CLASS, our Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students, we work to offer one of the very best student college experiences in the nation. CLASS is predicated on the fact that our students live here (on, or proximate to, the campus); and they learn and grow here. And, we remain alert to new opportunities to make Rensselaer an even better place to learn and to live.

Our Off-Campus Commons, an abstract concept that last year became more concrete, is one example. We created this space because those students who live off-campus comprise a kind of diaspora in and around Troy. Therefore, we wanted to give them a physical space to gather, and to garner support. It has emerged as an immensely important place for students to study while on campus, whether alone or in groups. In the fall semester, nearly 600 Rensselaer students availed themselves of this gathering spot, many of them more than once.

Our new Safe Ride program is another excellent addition to CLASS. It arose out of conversations I had in the fall of 2016 with students—especially some of our female students in an off-campus sorority—who told me that after late nights of studying or socializing, even on-campus, they truly needed a more secure route back to their house.

Now, while we educate great explorers and adventurers at Rensselaer—we understand that our first obligation, always, is to safeguard the young people in our care. So, first we expanded the routes and times of operation of our Shuttle Buses, but we decided that was not enough.

So now, in addition to the Shuttle Bus Service, we have a fleet of two electric vehicles donated by American Honda Motors—and emblazoned, appropriately, in red and white—to offer rides until three in the morning, seven days a week. Demand already has been quite intense: In just the first two weeks of the service, beginning in late January, 312 rides were given to 440 students.

We also are very pleased that the Safe Ride service has created 23 jobs for students—a particularly dedicated team whose leadership deserves to be acknowledged. Thank you for helping us to launch Safe Ride.

I thank, as well, Ms. Kelly Thibault, Associate Dean of the Off-Campus Commons and manager of Safe Ride. To everyone who has had a part in launching this ride service—well done!