Watson opposes efforts to put Triton Taxi waiver online

    Attempts by the A.S. Council to incorporate a Triton Taxi waiver into the new StudentLink portal have remained unsuccessful. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson opposes placing the waiver online, citing safety concerns.

    Currently, students wishing to sign up for the service must fill out a waiver and obtain a sticker at the A.S. offices on the third floor of Price Center.

    Former Thurgood Marshall College Chair Travis Silva, a proponent of the program, believes that having the waiver online and easily accessible would help improve student safety.

    “The [Triton Taxi] program is a very important one, and having it visible is key to encouraging people to sign up for Triton Taxi and use it when they need to,” Silva said. “It has the potential to help students who can’t get themselves out of whatever bad situation they might find themselves in. Possibilities range from uncomfortable sexual situations, failure of a designated driver to hold up their bargain, or a free ride in case of a lost or stolen wallet.”

    Watson said he does not believe that the Triton Taxi program should be affiliated with the UCSD administration, and raised concerns regarding the effect of the Triton Taxi program on students.

    “I don’t think [Triton Taxi is] a type of activity that should be formally associated with the university’s administrative operations,” Watson said. “There are a number of activities that lots of people have an interest in doing, but do not advance the welfare of students. [Triton Taxi] is not a safety program. It is a program to facilitate the consumption of alcohol. It is a program that encourages and facilitates students getting into circumstances in which they are not safe. This is a service to extract them.”

    As an alternative to Triton Taxi, Watson called for more programs to improve student safety through education. Watson also believes that in order to be effective, any safety programs would need to be available to students at all times. Due to funding constraints, Triton Taxi is available from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

    The A.S. Council recently reallocated $6,800 to keep the program running through the end of the quarter due to an unforeseen rise in the service’s use.

    “I think the safety of students is important and I think that this institution, including the [Associated Students], should be advising students on how to be safe and secure,” Watson said. “Such advice should cover a full range of circumstances that could cover a full range of geographic areas and the full range of the week. Safety programs should not just be functioning during [part of] the week. That should be the hallmark of a safety program.”

    During fall quarter, the A.S. Council was approached by Mesa Distributing company, which offered potential sponsorship deals with companies such as Coors Brewing company or Miller Brewing company that could have been used to help fund the Triton Taxi program.

    According to former A.S. Commissioner of Student Services Kelly Vasant, the deal was potentially worth $10,000, but was rejected due to the administration’s concerns.

    “My adviser at the time, Paul DeWine, and I spoke with different people at UCSD,” Vasant said. “The council was really for it. However, from the administration’s point of view, getting sponsorships from alcohol companies was not a good idea, so it kind of stopped there.”

    Vasant also believes that the times Triton Taxi runs are sufficient, but that geographic coverage could be improved.

    “I think the time that we use it is great,” Vasant said. “I don’t think we need to extend it. As for coverage, this year we lost the ability to go to the Mexican border, but if we were able to get more funding, that is something that we might do.”

    Earl Warren College sophomore Marianne Samonte believes that the Triton Taxi program is useful, but that more information about the program needs to be available.

    “On the weekend, if I don’t know how late I’m going to stay out, it’s good to have Triton Taxi as a backup,” Samonte said. “But one time, on a Thursday, we missed the bus, so we called Triton Taxi and they wanted money for it … and we figured out that they only [ran for free] on weekends.”

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