The UConn Undergraduate Student Government (USG) discussed the return of GUARD Dogs at a caucus Wednesday evening. The program was suspended in spring 2014.
The return of GUARD Dogs in the fall 2015 semester is “likely,” but not yet official, said Eliza Conrad, a fourth semester international business management major and chairperson of the GUARD Dogs restructuring committee.
The student operated sober-ride service was shut down last year as a result of “poor management,” said vice-president of USG Roma Romaniv, “I could have walked in off the street and driven last year.”
Conrad believes that new policy will not allow for this level of disorganization.
“The GUARD Dogs restructuring committee will continue to work closely with the Student Activities office until the process is finalized,” she said.
GUARD Dogs will not be officially reinstituted until new administrative policy is finalized and voted on by USG.
Husky Watch is a possible alternative to GUARD Dogs, but this service is run through the UConn Police Department and does not support students suspected of drinking.
“I just feel more comfortable calling GUARD Dogs,” said sixth-semester allied health major, Jack Sawyer, “I know some students are more likely to ‘risk it’ than call the police.”
Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) started a sober rides program in lieu of GUARD Dogs. While GUARD Dogs provided a free service, the SSDP charges $2 for a ride.
“[GUARD Dogs] is such an important harm reduction program,” said eighth semester history major and president of SSDP Tyler Williams, “but we’ll probably continue to run our own programs since Guard Dogs may not have the capacity to handle the need of the entire community.”
Conrad and the GUARD Dogs restructuring committee plan to hire 162 volunteers. Each driver will go through a regimented training process before they can take to the streets.
“The goal is to have this ready for the fall,” said Conrad. “We need to be sure that the program is ready to go before we move forward.”
The program was originally set to return in the spring 2015 semester.