SGA, Uber partner to provide free, discounted rides for students

Collegian file image. 

SORELL GROW | NEWS EDITOR | svgrow@butler.edu

Butler announced a partnership with Uber, a ride-sharing company, on Aug. 25 that will provide free and discounted rides to several locations in Indianapolis for students. 

Sam Varie, SGA student body president and senior strategic communication major, made the announcement to the first-year class in Clowes Hall. 

Students will receive an email invitation on Aug. 28 to register through Butler with their Uber account. Once a student is registered, they will be able to utilize the different ride services and toggle between their personal and Butler profile depending on their trip purpose.

Starting Aug. 28, students will be able to ride for free at any time to three resource centers in Indianapolis: the Julian Center, a domestic violence support center, Indiana Youth Group, an LGTBQ+ youth support organization, and St. Vincent Stress Center, a center for mental health services. 

“Those three places provide resources that are incredibly important to our student body but also something that we value as an administration, and so, in partnering with those organizations and providing access, we’re expanding our reach in how we can support students on campus,” Varie said. 

Varie and Malin Peterson, SGA vice president and senior youth and community development major, are open to hearing student feedback, once the rides start happening. 

“That’s definitely going to be a process through student feedback and identifying through Uber how are students utilizing the service,” Peterson said. 

Starting Aug. 30, the Uber partnership will also provide a $5 discount on rides to and from the Kroger grocery store in Broad Ripple on Friday and Saturday nights from 5 to 10 p.m. Students will be able to be picked up or dropped off from anywhere on campus.

“The intention is access to food and personal care, but also, the social aspect,” Varie said. “We do not have a concern that it will be used as a means to only go bar hopping, and if it does, we’re happy that we provided students with a safe way to do so.”

Peterson said the ride discount doesn’t apply past 10 p.m. because SGA doesn’t want the Uber partnership to be used solely for night life activities. 

Varie and Peterson first surveyed students at Flip the Script in April 2018 to understand how Butler students engage with the city of Indianapolis. Varie said the largest barrier preventing students from getting off campus was transportation, and the shuttle service provided by SGA at the time was not reliable or convenient. The SGA shuttle will no longer be in service.

“We wanted to find a way to bring people into the city to spaces that they wanted to go to, finding ways to engage people with outside the Butler Bubble,” Varie said.

The student body president and vice president created a proposal for an Uber partnership during the summer of 2018. They presented to the university to get approval and funding support for the program, which comes from student activity fees in tuition. 

The partnership is part of Uber for Business, which is a company program that simplifies how members of an organization can use rides. 

“If Uber helps one student, that is well worth it because it is our mission as an organization,” Varie said. 

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