Students might just be a bit safer this Memorial Day weekend when houseboating on Lake Shasta thanks to a program called Safeboats.
The Safeboats program, headed by ASUCD Senator Erin Lebe, will provide a dedicated boat with medical aid through EMTs and will pass out water, condoms and sunscreen to students during the weekend’s festivities. This will be the second consecutive year that a Safeboat will be present on the lake.
“I think it’s really important to make sure that no one gets severely injured and people get properly cared for,” Lebe said. “Instead of ignoring the problem and saying that they shouldn’t do this, I think it’s important to provide this service.”
Senate Bill 45 was passed with a 9 to 3 vote at the May 7 senate meeting, allocating $1,372 from senate reserves to the Safeboats program. The senate allocated $800 to last year’s Safeboat.
UC Davis students have organized themselves in renting houseboats for Memorial Day weekend for at least the past four years, gathering roughly 5,000 students. The weekend involves “heavy drinking, unprotected sex and poor planning … [leading] to bouts of dehydration, innumerable injuries and sometimes [resulting] in death,” according to the bill.
“I am not opposed to Safeboats; actually, I think it’s incredibly important that Safeboats have a presence at Houseboats,” said ASUCD Senator Mo Torres, who voted against the bill. “Students should take initiative in ensuring the safety of all UC Davis students at such a potentially dangerous event.”
Torres however, did oppose ASUCD funding this year’s Safeboat.
“With such a limited amount of money available in the senate reserves, I question the necessity to fund Safeboats when Houseboats is a party and nothing more. … I can’t justify allocating such a great amount of money to something that is neither educational nor empowering to the campus community,” Torres said in an e-mail interview.
Funding came from not only senate reserves, but the Office of the Vice President, Campus Safety Coordinator, Club Finance Council, Inter-Fraternity Council, Davis Co-op and fundraisers at Yogurt Shack and Habit Burger. Water donations were also given from H20 to Go.
Campus Violence Prevention Program (CVPP), Men Acting Against Rape (MAAR), and Health Education and Promotion (HEP) helped put together last year’s Safeboat, with HEP members volunteering on the boat. According to the bill, these organizations “did not want to participate this year and therefore were unable to acquire funding from those resources.”
“We didn’t donate any money,” said Shuana Stratton, student programming and outreach coordinator for CVPP. “We didn’t pull out either, MAAR isn’t a group on campus anymore.”
MAAR, a group that CVPP advised, was involved in the planning process last year, its former president Sam Hardy was one of the people that proposed the original idea of Safeboats.
“They asked us if they would help plan it, but it happens after our ‘Take Back the Night‘ event. Even being involved in the planning last year and supporting them was near impossible for us, we were running around like chickens with their heads cut off,” Stratton said.
Stratton said she gave Lebe the binder of information from last year’s event to help her in the planning process.
Issues concerning liability came up during the discussion of last year’s senate bill supporting the program. Lebe met with the University of California lawyers last summer to discuss liability concerns. She said that they understood the risk but also understood its importance. The liability of the boat is now covered under the UC’s risk management insurance while the EMTs are covered under their own insurance.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.