Stumbling home

Mandi Noyes

Students discuss safe methods of getting home

Blurred vision can be one effect a large amount of alcohol can have on an individual, and many find it difficult to make it home safely from downtown Kent after a night of drinking.

Credit: Beth Rankin

There had been lots of drinking. He couldn’t even walk, let alone drive.

The cab service didn’t answer its phone, so senior Mark Simmons ordered a pizza.

“I was so desperate to get home from the bars one night that I called Euro Gyro,” operations management major Simmons said. “I asked if they could delivery me with the pizza. They could’ve kept the pizza. I just wanted them to take me home.”

Simmons, like many Kent State students, found himself in a predicament — how to get home drunk from downtown Kent. Transportation to and from the bars can be difficult to find, and students aren’t left with many options to get home safely.

For many, a designated driver is the sensible solution, but students say sometimes it’s unrealistic.

“It’s a pain in the ass to find a sober friend sometimes,” said Karly Burt, senior special education major. “Who wants to stay sober sometimes when all your friends are drinking at the bars?”

If students don’t have a way home from the bars, most of the time they will drive, senior English major Christine Alfredson said.

“It’s stupid and irresponsible, but it’s the truth,” Alfredson said. “The fact of the matter is, not everyone will be responsible and find a DD.”

Sometimes, drunk students have to convince their friends to become the designated driver, Simmons said.

“I have sometimes called my roommates at 2:30 a.m. to have them come get me ’cause I can’t drive,” Simmons said. “It becomes a hassle because who wants to wake up sober at 2:30 a.m. to pick a friend up from the bars?”

The Downtowner — “The Drunk Bus”

Students on campus have the option of taking PARTA’S Downtowner bus, better known as the “Drunk Bus,” to and from downtown Kent. The bus is not well-known to many students.

“I found out about it from word of mouth,” said Anne, 20, a sophomore. Anne’s last name and major have been omitted because she is underage. “I think students should be aware of the bus because no one wants to walk in the cold and dark to get downtown, plus it’s just safer for us who drink.”

The bus is a reliable way to get downtown because students can always count on the driver being sober, she said.

“Sometimes, your DD ends up drinking, and then what do you do?” Anne said. “The drunk bus is a sure bet to rely on getting you to and from the bars safely.”

Senior art major Tony Lipps lives on campus and has never heard of the Downtowner but thinks it is a good idea for students living on campus.

“It’s nice for students to have because it discourages driving (drunk),” Lipps said. “They (PARTA) should advertise more about it, though.”

Lipps, 22, said he parks at a friend’s house on Lincoln Street and walks to the bars. But if he didn’t have a friend living so close, he would probably use the bus.

Off-campus students: The city’s responsibility?

Students who live off-campus are not so lucky when it comes to transportation to the bars. Many wish they had options other than driving. Kent should look into instituting a resource for students living off-campus, Alfredson said.

“I don’t think the city of Kent accommodates those students living off-campus like they should,” she said. “The Drunk Bus is only available for students on-campus.”

Off-campus options would benefit not only students, but the city as well, Anne said.

“Kent doesn’t want a bunch of drunk kids driving on its streets,” Anne said. “With more buses, or even extending the routes, I think the city will be safer, as well as us students.”

Another option for students would be to call a cab. Taxi services in Kent could advertise more to students, said Simmons, the student who got a ride home with Europe Gyro. This could help with drunken driving and accidents.

“The night is not about money,” Simmons said. “I spend 50 bucks at the bars. I don’t mind spending 10 bucks on a cab to get me home safely.”

Alfredson said she and her friends have used Bradley’s Cabbies to get home from the bars and said it’s the best thing off-campus students have.

“I have found (Bradley’s Cabbies) to be the most reliable on picking students up. I give their number to my friends,” she said.

Simmons questioned why Kent can’t use some of the money allocated from drunken driving violations toward transportation and prevention.

“Use the money collected from all the DUIs and develop a community service program where students can earn community service hours by being a designated driver for other students,” he said. “This way, the city can benefit as well.”

Simmons suggested that the city institute and advertise a 1-800 number for drunken students. Either the city or student workers could provide transportation to and from the bars.

Maybe if he had been able to call such a toll-free number, he wouldn’t have had to rely on a pizza driver for a ride home.

Contact news correspondent Mandi Noyes at [email protected].