If you’ve ever wondered why someone would sacrifice their Saturday night to give strangers a free ride home, ask U3 Arts student Daniel Binette.
Binette is Vice-President Operations of DriveSafe, a student organization that provides free rides for students on Friday and Saturday nights. As long as their three to four rented vans aren’t too busy, you can call DriveSafe to have a volunteer pick you up anytime between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. from anywhere on the Island of Montreal.
Binette has volunteered for DriveSafe since his first year at McGill. Now, as VP Operations, Binette is responsible for co-ordinating van rentals from Discount Car & Truck Rentals and helping to train volunteers.
Binette began volunteering with the program after a suggestion from his floor fellow in Douglas Hall.
“I would never say I […] came to McGill to drive kids home, but it’s a really funny service,” he admitted. “When people take it, they’re really happy to get a free ride home.”
On his DriveSafe trips, Binette not only helped those he picked up, but also his residence by bringing in extra cash.
“We would always take the empties from our rez back to Provigo and put [the money] towards our rez budget and we actually made a fair amount of money,” Binette said. “We’d take back like 80 dollars worth of empties and that actually helped council. “
Even though he doesn’t drive as much as he used to, if you catch a ride with Binette he has the perfect playlist for your end-of-the-night trip home.
“It’s really funny playing music when students are leaving bars,” he said. “They really like hearing stuff like [Sprit of the West’s] Home for a Rest.”
While many other schools have programs like WalkSafe, DriveSafe is a relatively unique service that ensures student safety, but also provides an added convenience.
“Our mandate is to help students who don’t have a safe way of getting home—whether that’s because they’re on their own, don’t have money, or don’t feel safe where they are,” Binette said. “What I’ve taken away is actually helping people when they’re really in a bad spot [….] To take them home and take them home safe—that’s a really rewarding and valuable service.”
In addition, Binette says he enjoys venturing to places a bit further than just trips across the city. Having travelled a lot with his family, he’s been fortunate enough to visit numerous destinations, including a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro in 2005.
“I was the youngest person to climb it that year,” he said. “I was impressed that I was actually able to do it. My dad couldn’t make it to the top, but my brother and I did; he was 15 and I was 13. When you’re 13 you’re not thinking ‘Oh I’m so small,’ but in retrospect I [was] like a toddler.”
More recently, he has also trekked part of Mount Everest and visited Israel and Jordan.
Binette’s international interests have extended to his academics. As a political science major, his primary interest is in comparative politics.
“I lived with somebody in Nepal for a month that worked for the UN High Comission for Refugees; she was a lawyer by trade and did refugee law and international law,” Binette said. “That was really interesting for me [….] I plan on going to law school in September, so that’s the trajectory that I’m taking. It’s more just an interest, learning about different countries’ political structures.”
If you could be in any movie what would it be?
I love Woody Allen movies; I love the quick funny dialogue in it. I love Midnight in Paris. I think it’s one of the best movies.
If you could make a Twitter handle what would it be?
What was your favourite job?
Last summer I did financial analysis on 110 charities for Charity Intelligence Canada. They’re the first company in Canada dedicated to analyzing the charity sector [….] The results are pretty shocking—it takes the Heart and Stroke Foundation over 50 cents to raise one dollar.
What is your favourite punctuation mark?
Interrobang. Nobody knows what it means, but it’s provocative.
What are your pet peeves?
1) Bad grammar, like when people use “your” for “you’re.”
2) People who wear clothes that are inappropriate for the weather—like when it’s five degrees outside and people are wearing Canada Goose [jackets]—that pisses me off. Or that one guy who, when it’s minus two, is wearing shorts.
DriveSafe can be reached at 514-398-8040
Fri. and Sat. 11 p.m. – 3 a.m.