We need a Washington University ride board
Every year around this time, hundreds-dare we say thousands?-of students begin dreaming about and planning for the long or short trip home for Washington University’s winter break. “Hey, does anybody know anyone from outside of Chicago?” some ask. “Can anyone give me a ride to Athens, Ohio?” ask others. “Where did I put my plane ticket?” still others ask. Whatever the destination, the last stumbling block to a long, school-less respite at home for most students is transportation.
We are surprised that Washington University does not have the necessary program in place to help students in their search for a means to travel home. The benefits for students would be immeasurable if there were to be one small, reasonable facilitator to this process: a Washington University ride board, on the Internet, where students from different areas could post where they are driving, when they are setting out and how many people they can fit in their vehicle. Those without cars who need rides home can search the website for those same offers, already posted. This is a service that could be provided by either Student Union or the Office of Student Activities.
Would those with cars be willing to participate in the service? Certainly. It is an excellent way for these students to offset the cost of gasoline for the long trip, to have some company on the drive home and to just meet some other Wash. U. students from their hometowns.
And students without cars will be more than willing to come to an agreement with students who drive home to cover the gas money. A roundtrip air ticket to Chicago right now is about $98. Not terrible, but if you figure taking a car to Chicago takes about 16 gallons at about three dollars a gallon, a roundtrip car ride with your new friend from Washington University split even just two ways would cost only $48 per person. Split that three ways, and it is only $32; four ways, and it is only $24; five ways and it is $19.20. Making transportation home more financially feasible-and sparing students’ parents a trip to the school to pick them up-is very valuable to Wash. U. students.
The service would be especially useful for first-year students. Before one has established a network on campus, it is difficult for a freshman to find someone who lives in his or her home town, especially when going home as early as Thanksgiving Break. Without a ride board and without the ability to bring cars on campus, many of these students may choose to fly home or rely on their parents to come get them-a solution that is both harder on the wallet and harder on the parent.
A ride board would also be another way for the University to advocate environmental concerns as they repeatedly claim they desire to do. With the creation of a simple Web site, hundreds of students could travel in far fewer cars driving around the country and emit far fewer harmful gases. Also, the temptation to fly home, an extremely unenvironmentally friendly choice, for students who live within driving distance would be far less with the presence of a ride board-when it takes as little effort as going to a Web site does, it is hard to turn down the cheaper and more convenient option.
In summary, Wash. U. should take the relatively small amount of time it would require to make a ride board Web site that students can access with their student ID numbers and passwords. Not only would it be it an assurance of transportation for prospective students, but it would be an extremely helpful resource for students on campus now.
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