Spencer Goodson, vice president of campus outreach for the UNC Panhellenic Council, and Jackson Somers, vice president of recruitment for the Interfraternity Council, are leading the initiative after receiving an anonymous donation to fund the program.
“The idea in general was, let’s provide free Uber to our students that may not be using other services to get home after going to the bars,” Student Body President Houston Summers said.
“Someone liked that idea enough to donate enough money to be able to go through a trial run.”
Information like when the program would start or how it would work is still being solidified because conversations with Uber are ongoing, Summers said.
Summers did not disclose the exact amount of money involved and said he did not know who the anonymous donor was.
The initiative is a response to growing concern about drinking on college campuses, Summers said, and it’s meant to supplement existing programs like Buzz Rides, the P2P and SafeWalk.
Summers said a trial run might happen before the end of the month. Goodson said nothing is official yet and there is no time frame available for when the program could begin.
The idea to partner with Uber came from the company’s popularity and accessibility, Summers said. Current campus programs, like the P2P, are limited to certain locations and certain times.
“Uber is much more efficient in regards to personal preference,” he said.
Details about how the program will work are unclear, but Summers suggested it will be modeled after other universities, such as the University of Florida, that have similar programs.
“I perceive it being a map much like the P2P, like it runs within this given area and if you really need them, to call and come pick you up, they will, but they will only come so far,” Summers said.
Tiffany Harrington, a senior, has used the Buzz Rides service at UNC, but took advantage of Uber’s services this summer in New York City.
“I feel like Uber is a trusted company because it’s so big,” Harrington said.
Harrington said Uber’s reputation plays a factor in which service she chooses when going home from a party.
“I think it’s responsible, considering what happened this summer,” Harrington said.
According to police, on July 19, former UNC student Chandler Kania left La Residence drunk. Police say he then hit another car and killed three of the passengers, injuring a fourth.
“It sucks that it takes such a big tragedy for things to change,” Harrington said.
Peter Diaz, president of the Interfraternity Council, said this program would not be just for students walking home from bars or parties.
“It’s not just about going out,” Diaz said. “Whether they are studying with friends or just on campus and don’t want to walk home at night, it can help.”
Diaz said this program could provide a safe way for students to get home without worrying about getting accosted or assaulted.
University Editor Jane Wester contributed reporting.