LOGAN — A process to potentially cut funding to the Aggie Blue Bikes program — which provides free bikes and bicycle repairs to Utah State University students — caused students to protest and ultimately caused President Noelle Cockett to change her mind on the decision.
Students currently pay $2.78 each semester to use the program, but members of the student fee advisory voted unanimously to approve increasing fees for the Aggie Recreation Center by $6 at the end of January. Board members said they were unaware, however, that the state of Utah directed universities to keep student fees flat, and therefore this increase would require $6 to be cut elsewhere (~$3 from Aggie Blue Bikes and $3 from the Blue Goes Green program).
After Cockett and Utah State University Student Association President Sami Ahmed alerted the student fee board, students in favor of keeping Aggie Blue Bikes funded staged a small protest outside Cockett’s office in USU’s iconic Old Main building.
“Aggie Blue Bikes is important to me firstly because I’ve been a beneficiary of Blue Bikes services and I wouldn’t have been able to get around campus or around Logan without having a bike,” said Carter Moore, a former USU student who organized the protest. “The advantages and the necessity that mobility was for someone that was out of state and low income.”
Moore also worked at Aggie Blue Bikes for several years, which he said gave him a “home” as he moved to attend USU after growing up in Missouri.
“Bikes can change people and make them understand their community better, make them understand transportation or other people,” Moore said. “Anyone that has been in the Blue Bikes shop and has seen the services and people they support knows how beneficial it is and knows how necessary a program like Blue Bikes on a campus like USU.”
Cockett and Ahmed changed their minds after protests and discussion with students, deciding to fund the program with other sources.
“It seems that Noelle and Sami heard our protests and they mentioned they didn’t realize how important this was to people,” Moore said.
Other students spoke to how Aggie Blue Bikes provides a means of transportation for out-of-state and low-income students, as many students from both groups attend Utah State.
“I think the university should really consider how getting rid of Aggie Blue Bikes really affects the students that aren’t usually heard,” said Lei Mobley, a senior studying broadcast journalism. “Aggie Blue Bikes provides accessibility to students and reassurance that they will be giving the opportunity to be a part of the Aggie Family. The Aggie Blue Bikes are such a small percentage of student fees and though it is small it has a big impact and should be considered very closely.”
Hailey Darrow, a senior studying public relations, said Blue Bikes provided a means of transportation for her when she moved to Logan from California.
“Coming to Utah State without a car, it took me two months to figure out how to get around and get groceries,” Darrow said. “I had never been much of a biker, but those bike-share programs were a saving grace for me.”