Concerns about RamRide operations halt reestablishment into Off-Campus Life

Emily Vavra

A proposed ASCSU Senate resolution that would reestablish RamRide into Off-Campus Life was halted Wednesday after allegations from a RamRide employee raised concerns about program operations.

The student employee, Halden Schnal, called into question the RamRide budget and discussed personnel issues within the office. Schnal has worked with RamRide for just under three years, and has seen the program transition from ASCSU control into Off-Campus Life.

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According to Schnal, there was an $11,000 surplus to the $251,000 budget at the end of the 2013 fiscal year. At the end of the 2014 fiscal year, RamRide had used $7,000 from a reserve fund of $30,000.

Executive Director of RamRide Sara Williams said during the Senate meeting that the dip into reserve funds was due to unforeseen expenses related to the motor pool. The number of rides given has increased from an average of 300 t0 400 rides per weekend during the 2013 school year to 500 to 600 currently. RamRide pays per mile driven on their vehicles, and the increase in volunteers and mileage has led to an increase in these charges.

“It is reasonable for the balance to ebb and flow from year to year based on revenues and expenditures,” Williams wrote in an email to the Collegian.

RamRide contracted for a dispatch system during the 2014 fiscal year, but it was not fully received until 2015, according to Williams. This resulted in a surplus for the year 2014 and a shortage in 2015. The balance of the dispatch system has since been paid, and Williams expects that RamRide will end with a higher fund balance than it started with in 2013.

Schnal also raised questions about the hiring process for directors, the procedure for hiring and firing personnel and the way decisions are made within the program.

“There have been a number of personnel issues in terms of the way the department has been managed,” Schnal said. The conflict, according to Schnal, is that the Leadership Team is made up of the director of Off-Campus Life, the existing RamRide director and the liaison between the two offices. This could lead to a biased vote in favor of Off-Campus Life.

According to Williams, applicants for the director position are interviewed by a committee composed of current RamRide staff, an ASCSU representative, two members of the RamRide Advisory Board, the current RamRide executive director and the Off-Campus Life coordinator. The committee provides feedback to the Leadership Team that makes the final decision.

Students using their own cars and operating out of a basement founded RamRide 11 years ago. It was eventually established as a department within the ASCSU executive cabinet.

As the program grew, it became more than ASCSU could handle alone, according to Andrew Bondi, associate senator for the graduate school and the most senior member of the Student Fee Review Board.

RamRide now operates through a Memorandum of Understanding created May 28, 2013 between ASCSU, Off-Campus Life and the Department of Student Affairs, according to ASCSU Vice President Lance Li Puma.

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“Through this MOU, ASCSU contracts out a portion of their student fee dollars to Off-Campus Life who, alongside the Executive Director of RamRide (who must be a student at CSU), administers the budget and oversees the operations of RamRide,” Li Puma wrote in an email to the Collegian. Li Puma said he believes there will be more affiliation with ASCSU if RamRide is reestablished into Off-Campus Life.

The MOU grants ASCSU a permanent seat on the RamRide Advisory Board, which is made up of students, faculty, staff and administrators. The MOU ends July 1, 2015, at which point it would be renewed, amended or nullified, and RamRide would move into Off-Campus Life.

Schnal said he fears that moving RamRide out of ASCSU entirely would cause it to become too administratively controlled.

Currently the resolution has been tabled until more information becomes available, Li Puma said. The Student Fee Review Board and ASCSU Internal Affairs committee are investigating the allegations and have asked that CSU Administration run an audit of the RamRide budget. They have requested help from the Office of Equal Opportunity and a member of the CSU General Council to review personnel allegations.

“ASCSU and OCL are both working together to ensure that the best opportunity for RamRide is reached,” Bondi said.

Collegian Reporter Emily Vavra can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @vivalavavra.