Westminster’s buddy system for traveling home for the holidays

Westminster's rideshare program started as a way to reduce air pollution, improve air quality, and make new friends. The board sits in Bassis Student Center and encourages students to carpool to any destination during the holidays. Photo by Chloie Dale

Westminster's rideshare program started as a way to reduce air pollution, improve air quality, and make new friends. The board sits in Bassis Student Center and encourages students to carpool to any destination during the holidays. Photo by Chloie Dale

In 2013, worldwide flights produced 777 million tons of carbon dioxide, according to the Air Transport Action Group. In the same year, three Westminster students decided to take action and reduce emissions from the college’s community.

In his sophomore year at Westminster, Kyle Wray, senior marketing major, said he wanted to help reduce air pollution and improve air quality. At the time, a rideshare program already existed, however, it was small and not many students knew about it or used it.

Wray—with the help of Margaret Wolf, senior environmental science major and alumnus Andrew Hagedorn—revamped Westminster’s rideshare program.

“Everyone drives a lot to campus and ski resorts, and we liked the idea of a rideshare program in general, so we started researching,” Wray said.

After countless hours of research and questioning students, the conclusions were that students wanted a physical board for this program. Thus born was the current rideshare board located in Bassis Student Center.

“We expected everyone to say they wanted a digital board, and someone was working on an online program,” Wray said. “But turns out that everyone actually wanted a physical board.”

The rideshare program encourages students to carpool to any destination during the holidays. On the new board, which is composed of a large drawing of the US, there are tags where students can put their contact info and stick it on a place they are either going or want to go.

While students are still navigating the new board, this college-style buddy system has mixed reviews.

Alicia May, junior neuroscience major, said she has never heard of the rideshare program. While she thinks it is a good idea for the campus, she is a little weary of riding with strangers.

“It seems kind of scary to me to tag along with people,” May said. “But if you saw someone you knew on the board, it would be nice to tag along.”

Another problem students see with the board is their proximity to the school.

Emily Budd has seen the rideshare board in Bassis, but the fear of riding with strangers does not bother her. Budd is a sophomore nursing major from Park City, Utah. Since her home is so close to Westminster, she does not need to catch a ride during the holiday season. However, if she were traveling farther than a 20-mile radius, she said she would use the program.

“I think people on campus are pretty high class,” Budd said. “I would just want to meet someone if they were going to drive me somewhere.”

Sarah Auchincloss, senior accounting major, and Peter Kirk, senior customized major, used the rideshare program when they were traveling to Seattle, Washington over the break last year. They used the buddy system in two ways though, pairing at first together and then riding with two Westminster students who were strangers to them.

Auchincloss said the driving factor in the decision of riding with strangers was gas prices.

“The rideshare program was great because it allowed us to split gas,” Auchincloss said. “It made everything cheaper and saved us money.”

The rideshare board makes its appearance two weeks before every major break, and all students are welcomed to use it. On top of cutting down Westminster students’ carbon footprint, it can also help build new friendships and keep a little more jangle in student pockets for the holiday season.