SAPAC and Lyft partner during Better Bystander Month
For the month of November, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center is teaming up with Lyft to provide students $10 off a Lyft ride between midnight and 6 a.m. throughout Ann Arbor. This promotion is part of SAPAC’s new bystander intervention workshops for Lyft drivers on campus.
The passes will be available at SAPAC’s tabling events in Mason Hall throughout November, which is Better Bystander Month — hosted by SAPAC’s Bystander Intervention and Community Engagement program.
According to LSA senior Julia Berg, one of the volunteer coordinators for SAPAC's BICE, Better Bystander Month aims to raise awareness throughout the University of Michigan community about how to have conversations about bystander intervention.
“We hope to empower students to be proactive bystanders and take responsibility for safety on their campus,” Berg wrote in an email to The Michigan Daily.
Berg further explained that one focus of the partnership is to help students stay safe.
“We are hoping that this will act as a pass that students can use if they're ever in a situation where they feel unsafe and need to get home late at night,” Berg wrote.
LSA freshman Stella Hackett believes the bystander intervention workshops for Lyft drivers could benefit riders.
“It sounds like a smart idea,” Hackett said. “Lyft drivers deal with their fair share of drunk students, and situations that could potentially be leading to a bad situation. It’s a smart way to stop things early on.”
In an email interview with The Daily, Elliot Darvick, general manager of Lyft Detroit, exhibited his hope for Lyft to aid campus community, and voiced his support for SAPAC.
“Our intention is to support late night transportation options in the broader context of keeping students safe on — and off — campus,” Darvick wrote. “We believe in improving people’s lives through transportation. This is a great opportunity for us to do so while supporting a student group we believe in.”
SAPAC’s efforts to prevent sexual assault transcend the Lyft stipend. Heather Colohan, the program manager of Community Outreach and Systems Advocacy at SAPAC, said Lyft drivers in Ann Arbor will be given the opportunity to attend SAPAC’s bystander intervention workshops.
The workshops, known as Raise the Bar, is a program developed in 2016 that SAPAC has implemented in 21 Ann Arbor bars to train bar staff on bystander intervention and sexual misconduct issues. The workshops have also been provided to Boober Tours, a pedicab company based in Ann Arbor. Colohan discussed how this idea came about.
“One spot that we thought would be great for growth in Raise the Bar would be to add a transportation component,” Colohan said. “So when considering what are some of the more popular location entities that students use from our campus of course Lyft came up. We reached out to Lyft and we are training between 20 to 30 regional driving representatives from the company.”
The University of Michigan isn’t the first university that has partnered with Lyft to make getting home safer. Earlier this fall, Lyft became the transportation provider for the University of Texas at Austin’s SURE Ride program, offering free rides for students, faculty and university staff members from main campus to an individual's home between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. seven nights a week.
Hackett believes the initiative would benefit female students. The 2015 Campus Climate Survey, a study that Colohan cited as being a driving effort of the sources of work for prevention at SAPAC, reported that women ages 18 to 24 consistently experienced higher rates of rape and sexual assault than women in other age brackets.
“I use Lyft all the time,” she said. “I think it’s nice to see that they’re trying to make female students feel a lot safer and not have to walk alone late at night.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this article mischaracterized the nature of the SAPAC workshops