UTS to not offer Foxfield shuttle service
Ahmed recommend groups find sober drivers, possibly reimburse tickets
The University Transit Service will not shuttle students to and from this April’s Foxfield races, complicating transportation for an event traditionally host to heavy student drinking.
“It’s just a matter of available resources,” UTS Director Rebecca White said. “We have a certain number of busses we can book and [all of the] busses were booked. We book busses on a first come, first-serve basis. I would say [this year is an anomaly], because we have had the available resources in the past.”
The development poses new challenges for University members who hope to make the event as safe as possible. Hawa Ahmed, a third-year College student and head of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team — a student group which focuses on combating alcohol abuse — is working to mitigate the potential for negative fallout.
“The issue was UTS is severely understaffed so they just don’t have the drivers,” Ahmed said. “The people in charge of the races try very hard to put pressure [on UTS]. But they just don’t have the drivers.”
Last year, 37 people were arrested at Foxfield. A large majority of these charges were public drunkenness. Reckless driving and exceeding passenger capacity was also a problem for attendees, with Albemarle County Police issuing 61 traffic tickets in conjunction with the event.
Given the frequent incidences of alcohol-related deaths at colleges and universities around the country and Foxfield’s notorious reputation for alcohol abuse, ADAPT and other University groups have said precautions ensuring student health are a top priority.
“ADAPT has a student safety tent,” Ahmed said. “We have free water, free snacks and free sunscreen all day. We also have a … campaign where people who sign a pledge to stay sober the whole time get a free T-shirt and free soda all day. We are really trying to have more pledges this year, because more pledges means more sober students, which hopefully means more sober drivers.”
Ahmed proposed those unsure of how to safely arrange transport use a designated driver. Groups should encourage people to be sober drivers, possibly by reimbursing them the cost of their ticket, she said.
“I always recommend one person staying sober the whole day,” she said. “I know a lot of people will pay for their sober driver’s ticket in return for driving them to and from Foxfield.”
Ahmed said a taxi service might take the place of UTS, though she recognized the added price tag could be unappealing to students. The service would start leaving Foxfield at 3 p.m., while any taxicab could take a student to the races in the morning. To keep prices down, Ahmed said she hoped to mobilize student organizations to reduce the costs as a group.
“One thing I really hope to be able to do is try to figure out if there’s a way we can get the taxi service to give discounts by going around and asking different student organizations for money,” Ahmed said.