GUARD Dogs benefits the student body
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2012 23:09
On Friday night around 10:30 p.m., a group of UConn students gathered in a room at the back of Whitney, laughing, eating wings and consuming copious amounts of coffee. These are the volunteers of GUARD Dogs, who give up their weekend nights to provide a free sober-ride system to UConn students.
What is GUARD Dogs? You probably learned about the organization briefly during orientation, or perhaps you have seen the glowing signs atop the cars that patrol the streets on weekend nights. GUARD Dogs stands for Giving UConn a Responsible Driver, a name that spells out precisely what the organization hopes to accomplish.
Founded in 2006 by Rebecca Auger and Shawn Alger as a safe means of transportation for students who had been drinking, GUARD Dogs provides a free sober-ride system to all UConn students. However, unlike Husky Watch, which is run by the police, GUARD Dogs has an anonymity and no-judgment policy. Patrons can call the GUARD Dogs for a ride Thursday nights from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Friday and Saturday nights between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Current president of GUARD Dogs Adam Bartholomeo, a 7th-semester student who has been active with the organization since his first semester, describes the organization as “providing a really proactive service on campus…by cutting down on drunk driving.”
Because GUARD Dogs is volunteer-run, it must rely on students to keep functioning. So why would students give up a free weekend night to spend fur hours driving around campus? It’s just plain fun. Volunteers gather at about 10:30 p.m. to prepare for the evening, which kicks off at 11 p.m. The meeting begins with a brief icebreaker, plenty of sustenance for the night ahead and then turns to the logistics.
Each vehicle is staffed with two volunteers, one driver and a ride-along who coordinates the pick-ups and the paperwork. They receive calls from the headquarters with the name and location of their next pickup as they drive. Fifth-semester students Lindsay Ray and Alana Arciero, have both volunteered numerous times before. As they get in the car, they put on their iPod and begin talking eagerly about the night ahead of them. When asked why they volunteer, Arciero replied, “To help out…my peers.”
Ray responded, “I’ve used [GUARD Dogs] myself and it’s always nice to give back to something that you’ve utilized.”
The entire experience of GUARD Dogs is an enjoyable one that keeps volunteers coming back for the promise of free time, laughter and, more importantly, the feeling that they are giving back to the UConn community.