Steer Clear gears back up

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February 8, 2008

4:36 PM

Starting tonight, the Steer Clear program will be running under new leadership, this time with paid student drivers and co-pilots.
The organization, which was originally run by campus fraternities and sororities, is now an independent group funded by the Student Assembly. Other changes include extended hours and the addition of Thursday night to the schedule. The new organization also promises more reliability and increased safety for both passengers and drivers.

p. “In the old service there were not a lot of rules and regulations that conducted the atmosphere of the van,” Director Will Sealy ’09 said. Sealy wrote a constitution for the organization, which includes a required Defensive Driving course and outlines the duties of both drivers and co-pilots of the vehicle.

p. “Drivers are in command of the vehicle … while the co-pilots are in charge of everything else,” he said. “What we’re looking for is people who can handle intense situations.”

p. Sealy first became interested in the Steer Clear program in his sophomore year when a driver offered him a ride to a friend’s house.

p. “Suddenly, [I] realized that I got from point A to point B safely and easily; it was just really nice to know we had something like that,” Sealy said. But upon discovering that it was not running the next week, and rarely ran on a regular basis, Sealy began to question the program.

p. “What’s the point of having something that’s great but not reliable?” he asked. He investigated the structure of the program and found that just a few years ago, when Greeks were required to participate, it had run regularly.

p. The national Greek organiztions heard about the program and feared a lawsuit. “They backed out, and our chapters at William and Mary were no longer required to make their members drive,” Sealy said. The organization collapsed due to lack of volunteers.

p. “I wanted it to be an employer/employee relationship, where the employer would tell them exactly what was expected and they were held to their obligation,” he said. “While I love the idea of volunteers, it didn’t prove itself to be a workable system.”

p. After numerous meetings, Sealy’s election to the SA cabinet and lengthy discussions with SA President Zach Pilchen ’09, the Greeks agreed to place the organization in Sealy’s hands. Sealy was left to write a constitution, a petition and, most importantly, advocate for SA funding.

p. The bill passed, and Steer Clear had its funding, with a proposed $8/hour for both drivers and co-pilots.

p. Katherine Eklund ’11 had her own reasons for joining.

p. “I became interested in this program because my dad was killed by a drunk driver when I was four. I know firsthand how a drunk driver can affect the lives of many innocent people,” she said. “I hope that Steer Clear brings up the issue of drunk driving and is an impetus for social change on campus. I have faith that our community can rally behind this issue.”

p. For Sealy, the aim is longevity.

p. “I want to come back in five or 10 years and know that this service is still up and running in its original format. That’s what I really care about in doing all of this.”

p. The launch of Steer Clear was originally scheduled for last weekend, but was pushed back for a thorough risk examination. The program will begin this weekend at 9:30 p.m. and can be contacted at 757-221-DRIV until 2:30 a.m.

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