The Daily Gamecock

Samantha Josephson’s memory kept alive by ride-hailing safety changes

Sami’s Law, which is currently in Congress, will help keep Uber patrons safe by requiring ride-hailing drivers to clearly mark their vehicles. 

The law will be named after USC student Samantha "Sami" Josephson, who was kidnapped and murdered on March 29, 2019, after leaving Five Points and getting into a car she believed was her Uber.

“Our hearts are broken,” Columbia Police Department Chief Skip Holbrook said at a press conference shortly after her death. “There is nothing tougher than to stand before a family and explain how a loved one was murdered.” 

The 21-year-old was from New Jersey. At a vigil on campus last spring, her boyfriend, Greg Corbishley, shared that Josephson had left a positive impact on his life.

“In the process of the last four years that I've known her, I’ve truly learned stuff about myself that I think I'll be thankful for her for the rest of my life,” Corbishley said.

The day Josephson went missing was also former Student Body President Luke Rankin's first full day in office.

“I will never forget that for the rest of my life,” Rankin said. “Those experiences are just chilling and haunting, and I think, just out of a tragic, tragic event, the way that our campus came together, the way that Alpha Gam was able to step up … out of everything, her family was just the greatest sense of strength and of love and of support.” 

At Josephson's vigil, her father, Seymour Josephson, said USC’s support was “totally amazing” and mentioned he wanted to improve ride-hailing safety measures. 

“That is going to be part of my mission in life now, is going around talking, educating, getting that out — and hopefully put pressure on Uber and Lyft to change something,” Seymour Josephson said. 

He said that something inside of him must have "spurred [him] on."

The Josephsons created the #WHATSMYNAME Foundation, which strives to “educate others on the importance of ride share safety so that no other family would have to suffer this kind of loss,” according to its website. 

Around campus, former university President Harris Pastides started the "What's My Name?" campaign, which aimed to get students to ask their drivers to identify the name of the rider they were picking up. 

"These three words have the power to save lives," Pastides said at a press conference

Last spring, Uber visited campus and partnered with USC to announce new safety measures on their app. The upgrades included push notifications to remind users to look for their rides at a designated pickup zone and safety tips centered around the "What's My Name?" campaign. 

“We haven't forgotten,” USC Police Department Capt. Eric Grabski said. “We are continually trying to educate and keep ride-share safety, and really safety in general … to heart. And we've really made an effort to ensure that that moves forward.” 

Grabski reminds students to use the late-night shuttle that runs from Five Points to various locations on and off campus. USCPD and Columbia PD officers work near the drop-off location in Five Points to help keep students safe. 

“Eventually, you know, most people will not have been around [for Josephson’s tragedy],” Grabski said. “So it's really important, I think, for us to continue to talk about these things and continue to just enhance, you know, each other's safety as we move forward.” 

Grabski said one way students can enhance their safety on campus is by downloading the RAVE Guardian Safety app. It works anywhere in the world and gives users the ability to contact law enforcement immediately. 

Seymour Josephson's message to students is to “slow up.”  

“The students are quick to move on,” he said. “I think it’s important that you always slow up and realize that there's ramifications to your actions … You have to do everything in your power to slow up and make sure that you’re getting into the right vehicle, for your safety.”

From this tragedy, Rankin said that he will always remember how the Gamecocks were able to support each other.

“Our campus and community came together, and they stood as one,” Rankin said. “They said, ‘We are Gamecocks, we are going to go through this together, and we've got each other's back.’ And that was really a beautiful, a beautiful thing to come from such a tragedy.”

However, Seymour Josephson said nothing can lessen the pain of losing his daughter. 

“What Marci, myself and Samantha’s sister, what we've gone through for the last 13 months, is brutal,” he said. 

At the vigil, her mother, Marci Josephson, asked the audience to never forget her name. 

Sami’s Law, H.R. 3262, will ensure that her name will never be forgotten. A final draft of the bill is in process, and then the House of Representatives will vote on it in the fall. Similar state-level laws have already passed in South Carolina and in Josephson's home state, New Jersey.

The #WHATSMYNAME Foundation asks members of the USC community and the greater United States to remember Sami— Stop, Ask, Match and Inform— before climbing into their next Uber. 


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