Safe Ride, a student organization at Eastern New Mexico University, was created in 2004 with the goal of giving students a safe, confidential and reliable ride home when they are under the influence or in an uncomfortable situation.
The organization is run completely by ENMU students, and its services run for 76 hours straight each week. The team will pick up any student and take them home safely in Portales for free.
Rhiannon Barela, the Safe Ride coordinator, discusses the purpose of the organization, explaining, "To us, it isn't a job, it is an opportunity to ensure that our campus is safe and responsible.
"Safe Ride is much bigger than just our name. It is the pride in knowing that you helped a fellow colleague make a safe and responsible decision in getting home and avoiding injury or a DWI," Rhiannon says. "We want people to understand the dangers of driving under the influence and hope that anyone involved with us would take the position as seriously as we do."
Safe Ride drivers are selected carefully and only six students, Jacob Bustamante, Nicole Belford, Kennedy Haverland, Riley Daggett, Charles Countee and Alexis Rodriguez, hold the title of being a driver.
Kennedy Haverland discusses the benefits of being a Safe Ride driver, stating, "My favorite part of being Safe Ride driver is my teammates. We work closely together in order to save lives on campus, and we have a dynamic way of doing so."
Before being chosen for their position, Safe Ride drivers must undergo a series of interviews to ensure that they are qualified to handle the safety of the students.
To become a Safe Ride driver, students must be certified in defensive driving, CPR and training in how to resolve certain situations. They must also give up some of their personal time by committing to work at several campus events and presentations.
Jacob Hall-Bustamante, who has been a part of Safe Ride since 2017, explains, "Preventing drunk driving has always been something that has been important to me. Being a Safe Ride driver is something that I feel as though I was meant to do."
Rhiannon sees her drivers as leaders on campus and has been proud to watch them grow while they have been in the organization. She says, "I love seeing my drivers progress as leaders, and knowing that we are a resource that keeps students safe and making responsible decisions.
"Our drivers came to a consensus that in one word, we can be described as 'dependable.' Our job is to make students feel as though they have a resource that is comfortable and will provide them a safe way of getting home," Rhiannon declares.
Due to the commitment of drivers and members, Safe Ride can promote its services and present to different organizations, table at various locations and hold events that inform students of the effects of driving under the influence.
Safe Ride gives rides from 8 a.m. on Thursdays to midnight on Sundays. If students want to become members or get involved with Safe Ride, they can meet with any Safe Ride driver or the coordinator to discuss tabling and meeting times.
You can contact them at 575.607.9995 or 575.607.5999.