Pierce Kennamer implements initiative to promote rideshare safety and prevent sexual assault

The Chief Financial Officer and Student Body President-Elect plans to use the initiative to raise awareness of the possible risks that come from ride-sharing apps throughout It’s On Us Week.

Pierce+Kennamer+holds+up+a+rideshare+zone+sign+that+will+inform+students+as+safety+reminders.

Courtesy of Pierce Kennamer

Pierce Kennamer holds up a rideshare zone sign that will inform students as safety reminders.

Richard Pereira, Business Manager

Creating a safer on-campus experience has been one of Chief Financial Officer and Student Body President-Elect Pierce Kennamer’s top priorities in FAU’s Student Government. With an initiative titled “SG’s Efforts Against Sexual Assault: Committing to a Safer Student Experience,” he can make progress on that goal.

The initiative, which Kennamer introduced last October, aims to raise awareness of the possible risks that come from ride-sharing apps such as Lyft.

Kennamer is in charge of the university’s Lyft program, which offers discounts to students.  According to him, he manages around 1,000 rides a month. He plans on simplifying all the rides that show up on campus by putting them into pickup zones.

“We’re trying to create that so we don’t have people getting picked up out of the blue to where we don’t have security cameras, in a place where they’re kind of just getting picked up from a random spot on campus to where we can’t track them,” Kennamer said. “The more areas we get to have drivers together and more students, we have more eyes on the situation.”

Kennamer said the idea for the initiative came from a tragic event in 2019 he read about from the University of South Carolina. A student there mistook a car for her Uber ride as a man kidnapped and murdered her, bringing the importance of rideshare safety into the national spotlight.

Seeing how South Carolina responded, Kennamer hopes to do the same with his initiative. He intends to emphasize its importance throughout It’s On Us Week, a national campaign dedicated to spreading awareness on sexual assault through prevention, education, and programs from April 4-8.

“The idea behind [the initiative] is to make sure that we’re pushing and encouraging students to take those safety steps and those safety reminders, saying ‘what’s my name,’ making sure that you’re getting into the right car, making sure that you’re not getting into [a car of] somebody [who’s] not supposed to be there,” Kennamer said.

Candace Harrinarine, head of the Victim Services office, is working with Kennamer to ensure that the community is obtaining information about the initiative and its importance during It’s On Us Week.

“We are also creating social media posts for other departments to utilize to post regarding the rideshare program,” Harrinarine said. “The information will include what the initiative is about, risk reduction tips, and discounts with SG.”

The campaign will take place on every campus.

“This provides an opportunity to promote the rideshare safety program widely across all campuses. It will also provide an opportunity for the community to engage in a conversation related to prevention of sexual assault,” Harrinarine said. “We are intentionally trying to put the information on multiple platforms to increase the number of people who receive this information.”

Lindsey Goldstein, assistant director of Student Activities and Involvement, said that having multiple events throughout It’s On Us Week to talk about sexual assault in different ways will help educate and resonate with the community.

“We’re in a new era-type thing, and I wouldn’t have thought about ride-sharing a couple of years ago,” Goldstein said. “But if that’s what our students are using now […] I think it’s really smart for SG to do that.” 

Kennamer wants the initiative to bring a voice to what he describes as a “silent battle” because he feels people tend to be silent when discussing sexual assault.

“How are we going to step up and speak out on those things? I think that It’s On Us Week, in general, is encouraging students to have conversations about it,” Kennamer said. “I think that’s the first step and if we can drive us to be the forefront of the limelight, can we get this out and get people talking about it? That’s the biggest thing that we’re trying to do with the initiative.”

Goldstein wants to let the community know they’re not alone and there are programs and resources on campus that they can use for any problem they might have.

“When you think about college, you think you’re invincible… I think this is a reminder of like, ‘Hey, make sure you’re looking out for each other and be educated,’” Goldstein said. “It’s on all of us to speak up and make us better.”

Richard Pereira is the Business Manager for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email richus[email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.