Budget cuts caused pause in plans to repair Women’s Transit resources
A lack of volunteers and budget cuts led to Women’s Transit delayed starting date, a Women’s Resource Center representative told the ASWSU Senate, Wednesday, Sept. 1.
Francesca White, Coalition for Women Students Chair, said the budget cut of $30,000 set back Women’s Transit this fall after the program coordinator’s recruiting funds decreased resulting in her resignation. She also hoped the ASWSU Senate could help with getting the word out about the program.
“There was a pay reduction for the Women’s Transit coordinator so she couldn’t do regular recruitment,” said White. “We are in the process of hiring, but right now it’s on our shoulders to find volunteers.”
The program's interim coordinator, Kim Barrett had hoped to service the three 2004 cars and a replace several others this year.
“We pay for gas and there is a need for more money for maintenance issues,” said Barrett. “We have GPS now, but we use six-year-old radios.”
A misprint in the Women’s Transit signs and fliers was a reason for the earlier failed start date, according to the Women’s Resource Center Director Turea Erwin.
“Unfortunately there were not enough volunteers at that time. We probably could have run but at a reduced rate,” said Erwin.
For Women’s Transit to run daily, 100 to 150 volunteers per semester are needed according to Barrett.
Designed not as a taxi service but a program to reduce sexual assault risk, Women’s Transit provided rides for women in need, such as sophomore communication major, Brooklynn McIntyre, 19.
As a freshman, McIntyre lived in the Gannon-Goldsworthy residence hall, quite far from campus, town and her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta.
“The main benefit of Women’s Transit was knowing they would come pick me up and they were someone I could rely on to get places fast and efficiently,” McIntyre said.
With limited vehicles, the wait could discourage women to call, she said.
“A couple of times I had to wait 30 minutes to an hour,” McIntyre said. “This really impacts if people are going to use it or not. It can be a hassle if it takes an hour.”
Despite the rough start, Barrett is confident that the program should be up Monday, Sept. 13, the program is still looking for more volunteers.
“This is a very important program. It has survived 33 years and is really a great opportunity for students to get involved in the community,” Barrett said.
Erwin agreed they still need more help and emphasized that it is a unique student-run volunteer program.
According to the WSU website, Women’s Transit originated in 1977 and began running a year later. Now, the door-to-door transportation service logs an average of 80 rides per night. Applications are located in Wilson Room, or can be completed online.
I. What was asked of the ASWSU senate
a. Asked senate to get committees involved in spreading awareness.
II. How the budget cuts hurt Women’s Transit/ why they pushed back starting date
a. Pay cut for WT coordinator – results in lack of recruitment efforts
b. Not able to service cars/get new equipment
c. Unable to get the number of volunteers they need
d. Initially a mistake in the printing – couldn’t get enough volunteers by earlier date, had to push back to the 13th.
III. Importance and need for Women’s transit/student’s perspective.
a. Student testimony – helpful/possibly improvements.
Francesca White (Spoke at meeting) – Coalition for Women students chair - 509-335-7118
Kim Barrett – Program support specialist - 509-335-4386
Turea Erwin – Director Women’s Research Center - 509-335-8200
Brooklynn McIntyre – Women Student – 509-460-3572