The burden for funding for SURE Walk expansion should not fall on Student Government

James Treuthardt and Josephine MacLean

SURE Walk’s ridership has increased by almost 500 percent since fall 2016. This semester, they are expected to give rides to approximately 15,000 students. 

To keep up with growing demand for rides, SURE Walk estimated they need at least two more golf carts. All in all, this would cost $18,000, a drop in the bucket for a university whose budget totals more than $2.8 billion.

The funding for these golf carts should come directly from the University itself. A safe ride home is a basic service. Students expected to stay late on campus should be able to depend on rapid, reliable and safe rides home. Unfortunately, most of the burden to raise the money currently falls on Student Government.

This year, $2,195 from the total SG funds of $112,820 were allotted to the SURE Walk Agency. Most of this budget goes toward marketing the service and recruiting the volunteers who ride with employees to pick up riders, which are the Agency’s responsibilities within the SURE Walk program. SURE Walk operations will total hundreds of thousands of dollars this year. 

Parking and Transportation Services, PTS, distributes the majority of SURE Walk funding out of their total allocations from the University. According to PTS director Bobby Stone, “The SURE Walk budget is part of the overall PTS budget, it currently is not segregated. Our anticipated expense for the program (is) $338,829.”

PTS is doing its part to expand SURE Walk’s operational capacity. They are in the process of hiring two full-time supervisors. However, they declined to share how much this will cost. The wages for these new employees will come out of the same budget that pays for SURE Walk operations. 

This means the University has not increased the amount of funding to PTS, despite their changing circumstances and need to expand operations. Right now, the burden to raise the funds for more golf carts seems to fall mostly on the SG agency’s HornRaiser campaign, which has raised a commendable $13,841.  

During the time it has taken to raise the funds, SURE Walk has faced complaints about wait times, and even with additional volunteer coordinators from SG, increased ridership has stretched operations to capacity. 

SG is appropriately committed to fundraising, but financing operations for a program integral to basic student safety should not be their responsibility. 

“A lot of parents are concerned the University isn’t placing more importance on safety issues.” said Caroline Binnick, the mother of a former longhorn and member of SafeHorns. “We’re grateful for the carts we’ve been able to get (so far), but we want the University to take this seriously.

With the University focusing on a range of safety initiatives — studying lighting in West Campus and continuing increased patrols — one would think providing safe rides home for students who want them would be more of a priority. 

“Why would anyone get in the way of keeping so many students safe?” Binnick said.

MacLean is an advertising and geography junior from Austin. She is a senior columnist. Follow her on Twitter @maclean_josie.

Treuthardt is a business and journalism sophomore from Allen. Follow him on Twitter @jamestruethardt.