SMU Rides: On the Road to Success

April 29, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Katie Simpson

After a major shift in management last June, SMU Rides has undergone substantial changes.

Originally the program was run by members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) service fraternity. It was created on a volunteer basis and was funded by the Student Senate. The idea was that any student could call the SMU Rides hotline on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and would be provided with transportation back to campus, entirely paid for by the university. Student volunteers would take ride requests from callers and then forward the information to SMU Rides’ partner company, Executive Taxi.

“The idea of SMU Rides is great,” said former volunteer Celine Haikal. “It offers a free ride back to SMU or a student’s apartment to ensure students have a way to get home safely.”

Although the idea may have been a good one, it had never been properly executed. Before undergoing the recent reconstruction of the program, SMU Rides had proven to be less than dependable. The program had three main issues that needed to be addressed.

First was the problem of understaffing of both the volunteers who received the calls and the number of cab drivers available.

“APO did not have the time SMU Rides needed, and because there is such a quick turnover from officer to officer in APO, it was hard for the SMU Rides Chair to keep up with the details about [the program],” recalled Haikal.

Sophomore Tashika Varma reported having called the service twice last year; both times no one picked up.

“I think they should maybe have more drivers. Also they need a better answering system so that even if they can’t pick up every person who calls, it doesn’t come across to students as if they’re not doing their job,” said Varma.

Staffing issues weren’t the only concern the program was experiencing. According to Mark Rhodes, the current director of SMU Rides, students had been abusing the service since day one. Instead of asking for a ride back to campus, they were using the program to hop from bar to bar and with no proper documentation, it was hard to prevent this from occurring.

Now under Park n’ Pony’s management, SMU Rides has revamped its service to ensure the program is no longer taken advantage of.

It does still uphold its guarantee that the program has no connection with the SMU police. It is completely confidential and students will never be asked any questions about their night.

However, the new rule is that upon pickup students are now required to give their names, student ID cards, as well as their drop off location. This is to ensure that the service is used for the right reasons.

“The program is not a drop cab,” Rhodes said, “It’s an emergency ride home.”

The last issue was the lack of awareness within the student body.

“I think I’ve heard the name before, but I have no idea what the service does,” said SMU junior Clare Viglione.

SMU Rides now promotes itself all over campus. Along with a banner ad posted on the Park ‘N Pony website, it also places business cards in campus mailboxes and sends out e-mails to the entire university.

“If you need to get back to campus we’ll get you here, we’ll send a cab for you and we’ll bring you home,” said Rhodes.

“On a good night we got three calls,” Haikal recalls the state of the program before the changes took place.

But with over 280 calls last fall, SMU Rides is finally on the road toward success.

VIDEO: Senate Supports Student Medical Services

April 19, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia

Are you comfortable with a student treating you in an emergency situation? SMU’s Student Senate thinks it is an option worth supporting. Catch up on the last meeting of this years student government and find out when and where you can see next year’s senators get inaugurated.

Daily Mustang: Friday, April 8

April 8, 2011 by · Comments Off 

The votes are in! Find out who’s representing you in SMU’s 2011 Student Senate. Also where is it illegal to wear a seatbelt? And why was the Campus Carry Bill temporarily suspended by the Senate?

Daily Update: Friday, April 8 from on Vimeo.

The Daily Update: Wednesday, April 6

April 6, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Find out what Southwest is doing with their fleet. What are Dallas nonprofits doing in Japan? And find out how a man was saved from a gator attack in a very unusual matter. All this and more on your Daily Update!

Daily Update: Wednesday, April 6 from on Vimeo.

VIDEO: Senate Officers Debate, Elections Underway

March 29, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Samantha Cangelosi

VIDEO: Student Debate from on Vimeo.

Presidents, vice presidents and secretary candidates for Student Senate gathered to discuss their future goals they hope to achieve if elected to office at the Senate Officers Debate in Hughes-Trigg Tuesday evening.

One of the main issues that candidates all hope to focus on is making sure that all students are aware they have a voice when it comes to issues the Senate addresses.

“I suggest that we rewrite pieces of the Student Constitution to put subcommittees under Student Concerns,” presidential candidate Sam Mansfield said. “That’s going to help us make sure we are representing not just schools, but different organizations and different groups of people on campus.”

Shana Ray, a sophomore Meadows senator, said she thinks that campus unity is a very crucial topic during this election.

“The most important issue I would have to say is getting rid of that gap between the Student Senate and the student community,” she said.

She believes candidates did a good job of addressing campus unity and how they plan on dealing with the issue.

Candidates taking individual questions from audience members during the Student Body Officer debate held in Hughes Trigg Commons on Tuesday. (PHOTO BY LAURA MURPHY / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Katie Perkins, one of the three presidential candidates, mentioned ideas that would help with communication between the Senate and the student body.

“It would be the president’s job to keep campus unity. I want to see more social events on campus and communication between the student body and Student Senate,” Perkins said.

She also plans to “Perk Up” the senate by making sure the governing body performs to its best ability.

“We have to organize. We have to do that through training. We have to implement our policies and we have to do a significant amount of planning,” Perkins said.

Austin Prentice, another presidential candidate, is running on a “proactive and reactive” platform.

“The proactive part is this is my platform, this is what I’m running on, this is what I need to do,” Prentice said. “The reactive is the student body, it’s the voice. I think they go hand-in-hand.”

Roza Essaw, one of the three vice presidential candidates, also voiced concern about the lack of knowledge students have about who represents them.

She plans on implementing office hours for each senator that way students can meet and visit with those who represent their interests.

“If you don’t know who your senator is, then that means that your views and your interests are not being represented,” Essaw said.

“Most importantly, a student body vice president needs to be able to represent all students on this campus equally and without bias,” said Joseph Esau, another student body vice president candidate. “I have and I will continue to do that.”

Martha Pool, the only candidate running for secretary shared with the audience that she wants to make sure that all students know what is going on at Senate meetings.

She said her reason for running for secretary is she wants students to know how easy it is to get in contact with their senators, and to help them in doing so.

Another major issue addressed was parking on campus.

Alex Ehmke, a vice presidential candidate, wants to establish some sort of outside participation in the Park N’ Pony ticket appeal process.

“I feel like there has to be some sort of third party regulation in order to insure some safety, some sort of protection for students to make sure they aren’t targeted unfairly,” Ehmke said.

Prentice also mentions taking action regarding the issue of parking on campus. He wants to be able to make specific passes for parking areas that one usually parks in.

“I’d like to see more specificity in parking. A lot of people park in the same garage each time,” Prentice said. He wants there to be certain passes corresponding to certain lots or garages on campus.

Angela Martinez, a student senator, believes that all the vice presidential and presidential candidates are qualified, but, in the end, hopes that they can all fulfill their promises if elected into office.

“I really hope that our future student body officers really fulfill that promise that they are making to the student body because, ultimately, that is who we serve and that’s the purpose of their positions,” Martinez said.

Voting begins Tuesday at midnight and closes Thursday at 5 p.m.

VIDEO: Reminder for the Student Senate Debate

March 29, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia

Senate Debate Reminder from on Vimeo.

SMU’s Student Senate Officer debates will be held at 5 p.m. in Hughes-Trigg Student Center. Make sure to come by to learn more about the candidates and their platforms and you might have a chance to ask your own questions. The debates should last no longer than one hour.

Daily Mustang: Wednesday, February 23

February 23, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Why are thousands leaving Libya? Find out the latest on the earthquake that rocked New Zealand and learn why did a man hide a chainsaw in his pants? Learn all this and more on your Daily Update! Anchored by SMU-TV’s Bridget Bennett and Sydney Geisey.

Daily Update: Wednesday, February 23 from on Vimeo.

Senate Report: Tuesday, Feb. 15

February 15, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia

New senators were sworn into office today and a bill regarding charted organizations was brought to the floor. All this and more on your Senate Report.

Senate Report: Tuesday, Feb. 16 from on Vimeo.

The Daily Update: Thursday, Nov. 18

November 18, 2010 by · Comments Off 

It’s a big day for news! New York representative charlie rangel awaits his sanctions for federal corruption charges, bird flu flys back into China, and the SMU Student Senate passes new legistaltion supporting undocumented students. Learn about all this and more on today’s Daily Update.

The Daily Update: Thursday, Nov. 18 from on Vimeo.

Senate Passes Bill For Weekend Campus Transportation, Parking Tickets

November 10, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia

College students often turn to campus libraries as a safe haven for when they need to study, but one student found that a library could be a prison.

Jieun Pyun, the International Senator for Southern Methodist University’s Student Senate, spent two nights stranded in Fondren Library.

After having spent the first night doing course work, Pyun was unable to make the walk back home due to bad weather conditions. Pyun was then left with no option but to spend a second night in the library while hoping the weather would clear up.

After this incident Pyun and five other student senators have together written a bill that will encourage the SMU administration to look into providing Mustang Express services to cover weekends.

When brought to the senate floor for a vote, the bill was passed 27-10. Two senators abstained from the vote.

First-Year Senator Ramon Trespalacios, who helped write the bill, feels that it is a big step in the right direction.

“I believe it is a stepping stone toward helping the student body,” Trespalacios said. “Now the administration will see that students want and need public transportation on the weekend, they will have to start thinking about how they can provide it to us.”

Two bills written by Senate Vice President Austin Prentice were also passed at Tuesday’s student senate meeting.

One of the bills will encourage Park N’ Pony to stop issuing parking tickets after 4:00 p.m. on Mondays in select locations. The goal of the bill is to help students without parking permits to park on campus while attending on-campus student organization meetings.

The areas that are being targeted for ticket exemption are Airline Garage, Moody Garage, the sorority parking lot, the spaces along SMU Boulevard, and the Lambda Chi and SAE lots.

Cox Sen. David Coia added Dyer Court to the list of protected areas through a “friendly amendment.”

Prentice’s second bill is a recommendation to change the game day parking attendants shirts from orange, to SMU’s Harvard red and Yale Blue, in order to garner more school spirit.

Both Sen. Rachel Fox and Senate Parliamentarian Joseph Esau opposed the bill citing concerns for the attendant’s safety. The question of the cost of changing the shirts was also brought up during discussion of the bill.

Prentice assured the senate that the new shirts would not compromise the attendant’s safety and would replace the orange ones during the next purchase cycle. The bill was then passed with overwhelming support.

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