Students speak out about former Dawg Ride driver

Several women cite inappropriate behavior from a former Dawg Ride driver. Photo courtesy of Butler.edu.

ELLIE ALLEN | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF | emallen2@butler.edu 

FRANCIE WILSON | DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR | fwilson@butler.edu

Three sources asked to be anonymous and will be referred to using the pseudonyms Amanda, Grace and Claire.

Content warning: Discussions of sexual harassment. 

Dawg Ride, Butler University’s on-demand safety transportation service, is meant to help students “safely traverse campus at night,” but has recently caused some students to feel unsafe. Several female students have cited inappropriate behavior from a former Dawg Ride driver — contracted through ESG Security — both during and outside of their rides.

Amanda, a sophomore Butler student, has experienced several uncomfortable incidents when using Dawg Ride. 

“It was just frustrating because as a woman you don’t really have a choice,” Amanda said. “It’s like you either walk in the dark alone in the cold, it’s unsafe, or you take the Dawg Ride, which is also unsafe, where this middle-aged man is making comments at you, making you very uncomfortable.”

For Amanda, using Dawg Ride was a necessary resource last semester because she had a job off-campus and only had a parking pass for I-Lot — which would cause her to have to walk back to her residence late at night. She said one particular Dawg Ride driver used her consistent trips to create a sense of familiarity and ultimately, cross boundaries. 

“I don’t even know what he said to other girls.” 

Amanda said the driver would often make inappropriate comments about her clothing and appearance.

“If I was wearing something other than my work clothes he had to comment on it,” Amanda said. “Say, ‘Oh if you were my daughter I wouldn’t let you show that much cleavage,’ or just really inappropriate things and then I just kind of thought, ‘Okay he’s a creep, whatever, I really need this resource.’” 

Another sophomore Butler student, Grace, said the Dawg Ride driver texted her about an encounter he had during one of his rides. The TapRide app, when logged into via Butler email, automatically connects the user’s phone number — information which can be seen by the driver. Students, however, have the ability to change their phone number within the TapRide application. 

“He texted me one time and was basically bragging about how some girls, freshman girls or something like that, were drunk, and they were riding back from a party, and they were touching his hair, touching him from the back seat, and he was bragging about it,” Grace said. “That really grossed me out. I [thought] you’re supposed to be the one that is keeping these girls safe while driving them, you’re not supposed to be doing that with them.” 

Sophomore Butler student Claire said the driver would encourage inappropriate topics and conversations during their rides. 

“I guess the right word would be slut shaming,” Claire said. “He would degrade us based off of things that he made us tell him about our lives, whether that be romantically, sexually or whatever, and he would call us ‘alcoholics’ for going out on the weekends, and he didn’t say this directly to me, but I know another girl in this house, he said that a sorority in specific needed to be on stronger birth control because of their behavior and that was really weird.”

Amanda also had an experience when the driver made comments to her about women in her sorority being on birth control.

“He was very creepy, and he would make comments, and I don’t even know what he said to other girls, I’m just saying what has happened to me specifically, but he would make comments about [my sorority] and he would say something if he was dropping us off at a frat or party or something he would be like, ‘I hope all of the [girls in your sorority] are on some strong birth control,’ like what in the world,” Amanda said.

“It was like, to the point where he has their phone numbers.” 

For some of the women, the comments made by the Dawg Ride driver extended past their rides. 

While Macy Cansdale, a sophomore youth and community development major, was never personally contacted by the Dawg Ride driver outside of her rides, she noted this was not the case for all female riders. 

“I noticed this year more so than last year, he was more friendly with different people,” Cansdale said. “It was always girls. I never heard of him being friends with a guy, and it was like, to the point where he has their phone numbers.” 

Claire said a Dawg Ride driver found her phone number through TapRide and messaged her.

“The thing that made me be like, ‘Oh my god this is not okay’ is when … this random number just texted me,” Claire said. “It was something along the lines of, ‘Hey is this that fine ass brunette I keep seeing,’ like those are the exact words … and I was like what the heck, and I didn’t realize who it was and eventually I figured out it was him, and I was like, ‘Oh okay I guess that’s fine,’ and he would just like try to talk to me and text me all the time.”

Amanda said the Dawg Ride driver would also message her.

“I’d be like, ‘Hey could you pick me up at this location’ and he would, and then, he would just start texting me out of nowhere, and he would like start kind of cussing in his texts like, ‘Get your ass out here’ and things like that, and I think he was trying to joke but it was just really inappropriate and he would call me bestie,” Amanda said. “He would Facetime [my friend] and stuff. He told me he loved me one time, like hanging up he was like, ‘Bye I love you,’ and then called me ‘wifey’ once.”

Grace said she knew her friendship with the Dawg Ride driver was unprofessional, however she said she struggled to place boundaries between the driver who not only acted as a friend but provided her with a necessary service. 

“We would text, and we both knew, I was like, ‘This is f*cked up’ and he was like, ‘Yeah this is f*cked up,’ but we didn’t really do anything about it … because he never did anything super sexual or weird with me, or like said he wanted to f*ck me or anything, we were just friends,” Grace said.

“That was the last time I ever took Dawg Ride.”

Grace said their relationship crossed a line last semester, which prompted her to stop using Dawg Ride.

“Last semester, I kept getting these fake flowers on my car,” Grace said. “I didn’t know what it was, it was a white one, and then it was a red one and so I looked it up on the internet and it was like, ‘human trafficking’ so I flipped the f*ck out obviously, I was like someone is trying to track me, they are leaving drugs in these fake flowers, I was absolutely losing my shit. And so I actually texted [the Dawg Ride driver] about it because I thought maybe he would either know what it’s about because maybe other girls have been getting it on their cars, so I was asking him if he had seen anyone put anything on any cars or if other girls had been talking about getting fake flowers on their car and he was like, ‘I was the one leaving fake flowers on your car.’”

Despite expressing concerns to the Dawg Ride driver about these actions and choosing to avoid the service, Grace continued to receive messages from him.

“[He] then still kept trying to contact me afterwards, and I’d either just leave him on read or I’d just not open it, and I’d respond like two weeks later with something like one word and then I blocked him,” Grace said.

Amanda also chose to stop using the service. For her, this decision was made after the Dawg Ride driver made an inappropriate comment about her.

“I forgot my jacket, so I turned around to go get it, and he made a comment to one of my friends saying like, ‘I need you to help me get in her pants,’” Amanda said. “That was the last time I ever took Dawg Ride.” 

Claire stopped using Dawg Ride gradually as she grew more and more uncomfortable with the driver.

“Looking back I really wish that I wouldn’t have taken Dawg Ride on weekends,” Claire said. “I didn’t really have a choice, which is the worst part, but at the same time, I don’t like thinking about the fact that I was inebriated around someone like that. So yeah, it was just like a gradual thing, over time I just got less and less comfortable and then this year came, and I have my car so I was like it’s not worth it, I’ll walk.” 

After Amanda stopped using Dawg Ride, she said she was followed by the Dawg Ride driver on her way home from work.

“I drive past [the Dawg Ride] at Irvington, and I have this gut feeling that he was going to follow me because he knows what my license plate looks like because I have like [unique] lining around it, and he used to make comments about that, so he knew it was me in the car,” Amanda said. “So I go and park between [two Greek houses] and of course he followed me and stops the vehicle behind my car and rolls down the window and is yelling my name, so I get on my phone, and I’m pretending to call somebody, and he drives around, loops in front of me and is still yelling my name, waving at me and stuff, and then he drives off.” 

Amanda said she parked in a spot that wasn’t a parking spot because she felt like she needed to get inside.

“I get a text from him later saying, ‘Not a spot dumbass’ and I just didn’t reply, and that kind of confirms he knew it was my car, and he obviously knew he was there watching me and following me,” Amanda said. “I didn’t do anything about it, and then, the next day, when I went to go move my car, I had a sticky note that said, ‘Not a spot dumbass’ on my windshield.”

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” 

On Thursday, Jan. 13, an incident report was filled with Butler University Police Department concerning harassment from the Dawg Ride driver. When reached out to for comment, BUPD stated that they are unable to disclose personnel matters. 

A report was also filed with the University. 

The Dawg Ride driver is no longer employed at Butler.

ESG Security could not be reached for comment about the hiring and firing process for Dawg Ride drivers. Butler University’s Human Resources department could not be reached for comment.

Claire said it’s important to speak up about incidents like these.

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Claire said. “There’s so much added guilt and shame and uncomfortableness that comes with speaking up about situations like this, so I think just really hammering home the fact that it is okay and it is valid.” 

Those who have experienced harassment are encouraged to reach out to Counseling and Health Services. Incident reports can be filed via the “submit a report” button on the Butler University sexual misconduct page. Butler’s harassment policies can be found here, as well as the student handbook.

BUPD offers a safety escort all night and can be reached at (317) 940-BUPD (2873). 

Students who wish to share their experiences with Dawg Ride can reach Collegian editors at emallen2@butler.edu and fwilson@butler.edu. The Collegian will continue to follow this story.

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