Seymour Josephson wants to make sure what happened to his daughter never happens to anyone else’s.
“Nobody wants to go through what we’re going through,” Josephson said.
On March 31, Samantha Josephson, a 21-year-old student at the University of South Carolina, got into a car she believed was her Uber. Her body was later found 90 miles outside Columbia, according to a report by CNN.
The murder sparked conversations about the safety of rideshare apps, and what riders can do to ensure they are safe every time they step into a vehicle.
The #WHATSMYNAME Foundation was established by Samantha’s family to educate the world on rideshare safety. This year, a board member has a son starting at Belmont, which opened the door for the foundation to partner with the university.
This year, Belmont Campus Security is promoting the foundation with customized signs and has partnered with Student Government Association, Residence Life and the Title IX office to make sure safety messages spread across campus.
“One of the things we wanted to do was to take the program and have it be institutional-wide,” said Pat Cunningham, Belmont chief of campus security.
The foundation uses the acronym SAMI, which stands for “stop, ask, match and inform,” and is also the nickname of the late Samantha Josephson. With these tips, the foundation hopes to help people develop safe and smart habits to make sure anybody who uses a rideshare app knows what car they’re stepping into.
“It’s simple. It’s easy to remember. It’s easy to promote. I think it keeps the focus on the real tragedy that happened,” said Cunningham.
Belmont freshman Ben Tonks agrees, and he says he uses the ideas from the #WHATSMYNAME movement to help keep himself and his friends safe. Before he gets in a car, he asks the driver, “Who are you here to pick up?” he said.
Belmont isn’t the only campus promoting the program, as other colleges have purchased educational material and established designated rideshare pickup zones, Josephson said. Beyond college campuses, Josephson wants to change federal laws.
“We were just in Washington D.C. last week in meetings, creating and getting bipartisan agreement to create a federal law for the rideshare industry,” Josephson said. “The best start is by putting rules and regulations around these companies that will force them to take the right measures, the correct measures, to keep you safe.”
But while federal legislation is still in the works, Josephson still believes everyone can stay safe when ridesharing.
“Make sure that this is your ride. Make sure that this is your driver,” Josephson said. “Make sure that nobody else is in the car when they’re not supposed to be in the car.”