Naked bike ride to have staff, lights

This week, UVM will celebrate a tradition honored by numerous students around campus: The Naked Bike Ride. Due to increasing reports of sexual assaults and injuries in the past years, the Naked Bike Ride Task Force (NBRTF) has established numerous safety measures for the night’s event. “We decided to use student volunteers to aid in setting a more positive tone among the crowd and also to help identify misconduct,” Task Force member and Student Government Association (SGA) senator Lauren Abda said. “We actually maxed out at 180 volunteers.” “At the first NBRTF meeting in September we were presented with two options: make this a safer event or shut it down. We decided to give it a one semester trial run and that is where we stand today,” Task Force member and SGA senator Tyler Wilkinson-Ray said. In order to ensure safety, the entire event will be lit; however, rather than focusing the lights on the bikers, the lights will be directed on the audience members, Wilkinson-Ray said. “It isn’t the participants we have a problem with,” Wilkinson-Ray said. “It’s the behavior of the audience. Hopefully with the lights focused on them, the audience won’t be as anonymous.” Currently, the Naked Bike Ride’s tentative cost is roughly $14,800, Wilkinson-Ray said. Numerous organizations around campus have provided funds for the event; including the SGA, who has agreed to allocate $2,500 dollars toward this event. When the SGA Financial Committee introduced the SGA’s role in funding the bike ride at an uncomfortable providing money to the one night event. “The money we use for our budgets is from the student activities fee that every student has built into their tuition,” SGA senator Megan Benay said. “While the money is used to fund budgets, supplemental funding, diversity fund, nationals, etc., this is a student fee and is meant to fund student activities.”Ultimately, the SGA went forward with the funding, citing the ride as a campus tradition that students participate in and value.”Yes, this is money that could be used toward clubs’ budgets, events, etc., which is a concern to me personally, yet I feel the students would be equally upset if the Naked Bike Ride were simply shut down altogether,” Benay said. “Students who do not partake in these clubs or activities do not always directly benefit from this required fee,” Abda said. “I believe that the funds made available through the SGA in support of the Naked Bike Ride allow all students to have their money go toward one of the few traditions that UVM has embraced.”But the future of the Naked Bike Ride could face similar problems next semester, as there is still not a secure source of funding. “This money was donated with the understanding that it would not be a reoccurring expense,” Wilkinson-Ray said. Currently, Benay is working on a clothing drive, where students donate the clothes they won’t be wearing during the bike ride. “[This way] we can have something socially positive come from our tradition,” Benay said. “Why not do something good for the community while we’re at it?” Benay said.