New committee promises safety, security, service for students

By Hassan S. Ali

Addressing longtime complaints about the Late-Night Van Service, dubbed the Drunk Van by its riders, the University administration hopes a new committee will improve the service and streamline campus security. The van revamping follows a slew of violent attacks last spring and heightened crime—including 11 shootings—over the summer months in Hyde Park.

The summer has seen comparable criminal activity to that of the past academic year. For administrators, it’s enough to warrant improved security services. Kyle Lee, the appointed chair for the new Late-Night Van Service Committee, noted that the crimes have consistently occurred in public areas, with the victims en route to parties, their homes, or bus stops.

Serving everyone from the late-night studiers at the Regenstein Library to late-night partiers on Frat Row, the van service’s proposed improvements promise to improve student safety.

Lee, a second-year in the College, has worked closely with University administrators, students, and the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) to address complaints about the van.

“The theme of the committee will be fostering increased communication among different parts of the University,” Lee said. “The committee’s objectives are to evaluate the current status of the late-night transportation system for students in Hyde Park, identify systemic and potential problems, and fix those problems with creative solutions.”

The initial idea for a new committee took shape following a high volume of student complaints regarding the Late-Night Van Service. Students particularly voiced concerns over an inefficient and understaffed service operating during ongoing security issues in Hyde Park

“Some of the recurring problems with the van will be fixed,” Lee said, making direct reference to inefficient dispatching, a small number of van drivers, and a lack of sufficient funding as factors for inadequate van service. “The van will be one part of a larger plan to make late-night transportation more effective,” he said.

Lee acknowledged the protection offered by UCPD, but noted that a “student initiative” is the key to better security services for the campus community. “For too long, students have relied on the University Police to provide a service they themselves might be able to better operate,” he said. “The hiring of student van drivers will be one of the committee’s additional goals, and we seek to make students more involved in the processes that keep the University running.”