Night Owls receive new van from FAU Police

The Vehicle is part of a new partnership between the two organizations.


The new 2016 Ford Transit van in operation by Night Owls. J. Chris Hall | Contributing Writer

J. Chris Hall, Contributing Writer

After 24 years of running only golf carts, Night Owls has recently received a six-person 2016 Ford Transit van.

The van was purchased by Parking and Transportation Services last August, according to media relations manager of academic life, Kelsie Weekes. However, it wasn’t operating until January 2017.

In addition, the organization is now co-advised by the FAU Police Department.

The police arrangement was confirmed by Allison Rodgers, the assistant director for Student Government at the Boca campus. She explained that FAU Police are co-advising Night Owls alongside the associate director for Student Events and Operations, Keven Allen Jr.

Kyle Lachance, director of Night Owls said that they have had a closer relationship with the FAU Police and Community Service Officers this past semester.

“What we do is directly related to what [the FAU Police do],” he said. “It’s better for us to be under their advisement as they can actually assist us. Our other advisers aren’t even on campus at night when we are.”

FAU Police Captain Larry Ervin said that the new van will allow the Night Owls to run even during the rain. They will also be able to accommodate larger groups, especially during sporting events.

The director and his team of 12 drivers offer the free escort service via six, six-seat, gas-powered golf carts. The service runs from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Friday, for those students who don’t want to walk the dimly lit paths of FAU.

The existing golf cart style transport vehicle used by Night Owls. Ryan Lynch | Editor in Chief

Lachance said that as of right now, the van runs “Monday-Wednesday but we’re trying to run it full time next year.”

Between the costs of fuel, maintenance and giving the student drivers a fair rate of compensation for their hard work, it’s been no easy task.

Lachance said, “The Night Owls have been around since the 1990s and with the rotations of those in office in Student Government, it is always a constant challenge to keep up this service and the funding it requires.”

Not only do candidates have to pass an FAU Student Government background check, they must have a clean driving record and they must pass an FAU Police criminal background check as well.

Despite having a 33 percent increase in the amount of students transported — which can be up to 300 students per night and on average is 1,000 per week — Night Owl’s proposal for a 42 percent increase to its budget was turned down by the Campus Budget Allocation Committee.

The organization requested an increase of $51,824 but instead was given a $374.92 total increase to its previous 2016-17 budget of $122,989.

Rodgers wrote in an email, “The CBAC took all information presented by Night Owls into consideration when making a decision on their allocation.”

In spite of this, the Night Owls’ operations budget for 2017-18 has allowed the hiring of a student mechanic, also confirmed by Rodgers.

Sophomore mechanical engineering major Robert Wilson will be performing basic maintenance such as changing tires that are now bought in bulk, swapping out parts like new headlights and fueling the carts before each shift so every minute during their shift is maximized.

This will save the program from having to repair carts via third-party maintenance.

Lachance said that both the van and the support of FAU Police will aid in transporting students in a more efficient manner.

He said, “FAU PD thought it would be a good investment when they took us under their wing. They wanted to speed us up and make us run more efficiently. The less time people spend waiting for us to show up, the better.”

J. Chris Hall is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @HallJChris.