This Memorial Day weekend over a thousand students will be abandoned at Lake Shasta with nothing but alcohol, hamburgers and healthy sexual appetites.
Accompanying the students is a program called Safeboats, which will be along for the three-day excursion providing much needed medical attention, granola bars and condoms for the third year in a row.
“Safeboats directly affects students’ immediate life, or death,” said Hannah Kirshner, a sophomore political science major and the vice chair of the external affairs commission.
Safeboats funding this year, which in the past has been a hot topic on the ASUCD Senate floor, came from a multitude of places.
“The senate this year allocated $1,000,” Kirshner said. “We also received $300 from the president and vice president and an additional $200 from the campus safety coordinator.”
The Interfraternity Council (IFC) and the Club Finance Council (CFC) also contributed to the cause, with CFC donating $1,290, she explained. Still Safeboats and its supporters held fundraisers throughout the year to garner enough money to run the boat.
“We didn’t know until a few weeks ago, if we would actually be able to have a Safeboat this year,” Kirshner said. “Luckily we raised enough money at the end to be able to pay for the costs.”
Last year ASUCD was more hesitant about providing a portion of their surplus to Safeboats.
“I can’t justify allocating such a great amount of money to something that is neither educational nor empowering to the campus community,” said former ASUCD Senator Mo Torres in an Aggie article last May.
This year the senate already budgeted out the money for Safeboats with a line item, avoiding any sort of debate or controversy with the external affairs commission.
So what is so dangerous about houseboats anyway? Try everything.
“There is a lot of poor planning that goes on,” said Erin Lebe, a former ASUCD senator and head of Safeboats last year. “There is so much beer and not enough water to keep hydrated. People don’t bring condoms. Slaughterhouse Island is full of rocks. If we can even stitch people up so they don’t have open wounds, that’s still doing a lot.”
Lebe explained that Safeboats works as a liaison between the Shasta Sheriff and the students.
“We take care of the little things so they can take care of the bigger issues,” she said.
For those wondering what warrants a “bigger issue,” Lebe explained a situation two years ago in which someone fell off a boat in the middle of the night and became hypothermic. In this case the Safeboat was able to send for the Shasta sheriff’s boat to come take the student to a hospital.
Because Safeboats is with the rest of the students and open 24 hours, it is able to provide emergency care that the Sheriff cannot.
“Last year someone fell from the second story and cut a main artery and luckily Safeboats was at the same dock and an EMT was able to get there,” Lebe said. “Without them, the kid would have bled out.”
Safeboats provides other services such as water bottles, bandages and condoms to anyone who comes by their boat, which will be adorned with a big red sign and Christmas lights lining the exterior.
Kirshner explained that this year Safeboats will provide sunscreen, something it hadn’t done in the past. Also, they will be duct taping glow sticks to each stake on the island to make sure no one gets hurt walking into them. In the past, students commonly cut their feet and legs this way.
“Safeboats helped me out last year when I cut my leg on glass,” said Shiree Segev, a sophomore neurobiology, physiology and behavior major. “Knowing they will be there again this year makes me feel a lot more comfortable. It’s always good to know that just in case, you can get help.”
Safeboats may not cost a ton of money, but the services they provide are more than necessary in maintaining the safety and security of UC Davis students, Lebe said.
“If we are able to save just one student’s life, can we really put a price on it?”
ANDY VERDEROSA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.