When three MU students called the volunteers at Supportive Tigers in Pursuit of Ensuring Safety for a ride home Thursday night, it was the 30,000th time in the past four years STRIPES has provided students with safe transportation after a night out.
By the end of the night, 100 more groups of students were taken home by STRIPES’ drivers.
The organization offers this service every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights when MU classes are in session in order to prevent drunken driving.
The volunteers who make STRIPES a success anticipated they would reach the 30,000th-ride milestone on Thursday and celebrated the occasion. Students, police officers and MU administrators visited the group’s five-room house on McBaine Street to eat cake and offer congratulations as television news cameras surveyed the rooms filled with energetic celebrants.
In accordance with the organization’s policy, no alcohol was served.
“I think it’s the single best program (Missouri Students Association) has ever done,” said Kim Dude, director of MU’s Wellness Resource Center, to the volunteers and well-wishers.
Dude noted there has been a 16 percent decrease in drinking and driving among MU students since STRIPES was founded.
STRIPES, created in October 2001, has 275 participants this semester dedicated to preventing drunken driving. Some answer calls from students requesting rides. Others drive the eight rental cars used to transport intoxicated or wary passengers home while volunteer riders maintain phone contact with a dispatcher who guides them between destinations. The organization, which is entirely student-run, receives funding from MSA and private donors.
Dan Reiter, one of the organization’s five co-founders and a 2003 graduate of MU, attended the festivities.
“It’s definitely sort of surprising to see it flourish like this,” Reiter said. He and the other co-founders modeled STRIPES after Texas A&M’s Car Pool program after observing it on a visit in April 2001.
“We just fell in love with it,” said Reiter. “Over the summer the five of us worked nonstop on it, and it was up and running by October.”
Volunteers drove 131 students home on STRIPES’ first night.
Current volunteers serve for a variety of reasons.
“In high school I had a couple of friends die in drunk driving accidents,” said MU senior Melanie Lambert, who has served as the program’s assistant director and director. Lambert said some people volunteer because they regret past drunk driving or to help out friends.
“Basically, I just believe in the cause,” said sophomore Jason Gass, who volunteers on Saturday nights.