Last week, the Undergraduate Student Government of the University of Connecticut voted to approve the necessary steps for the return of GUARD Dogs to campus. Pending approval by the UConn Student Activities Business Office (SABO) and other organizations, GUARD Dogs could be back on campus as soon as the fall of 2015, according to an article published by The Daily Campus.
GUARD Dogs is a free, student-run sober rides program that was suspended in the spring of 2014 due to poor organization and management. The legislation passed this past week is the culmination of an effort dating back to September 2014 to reinstate GUARD Dogs with new policies to prevent such mistakes. The reintroduction of GUARD Dogs will include a committee, for which students can apply to be part of, to oversee the sound transition back into campus life.
The return of GUARD Dogs should be a top priority. The availability of free and accessible sober rides is essential for student safety. Currently, through groups such as Buy or Sell, sober drivers can post their contact information and fee for the night, however it is not as organized or reliable. Husky Watch, a service coordinated by the UConn Police Department, is the only UConn-associated alternative, however it is not for students who may have been drinking.
Additionally, many students have been affected by the delay in the return of the program. The return of GUARD Dogs is long overdue, especially after students were told the program was originally set to return in the spring of the 2015 semester. In addition to strict student activities policies hindering the swift reintroduction of GUARD Dogs, there has been no free alternative option provided for students in the meantime.
The projected return of GUARD Dogs for the fall of 2015 must come to fruition. In an interview, Eliza Conrad, USG senator and Guard Dogs chairperson, stated that if SABO approves GUARD Dogs, it might still take months of work, likely over the summer, to complete the transition into the fall semester. This is certainly a worthwhile effort that must be met with the necessary expediency – while remaining diligent with new training programs, etc., to ensure past mistakes are not repeated.