Those without wheels

By Chase Parnell

(Huntingtonian Archive Photo)

“I don’t own a car on campus because cars are expensive and it costs a lot to have insurance on them and get decals,” said Esther Higginbottom, a freshman.

Higginbottom does not have a car on campus, which she said is a “hassle.”

Of 990 undergraduate students at Huntington University, 647 have a car on campus. This means that about a third do not have one.

“We know that students use their cars for very good reasons,” Jesse Brown, associate dean of student development, said. “They have a job, they are going home, they are going to a church in another community, or out spending time with their friends. We think it’s very good for students.”

Minkailu Mambu, a sophomore at HU, echoed Brown’s explanation and said he cannot afford a car.

“I ride a bike, or ask for a ride from a friend if I need one,” said Mambu.

Niki Beere, a sophomore, said the reason she doesn’t have a car on campus is she does not own a license.

“I don’t want to get my license,” said Beere. “Some of it is because of my hearing impairment, but most of it is that I’m afraid to drive.”

Brown has owned a car since he got his driver’s license at 16. He was away from home for 12 semesters (six years) within that time, and had 13 different cars. His dad bought, fixed and sold cars as fast as he could, so Brown took a different car back to school all the time.

“For me, having a car has been crucial to my independence,” Brown said. “I think that for some students having a car isn’t important to them – they can’t afford it, or for whatever reason they just don’t want to have a car.”

Higginbottom said she borrows a car once a week from a friend. Insurance issues are the biggest threat for borrowing a car, she said.
“Insurance was tricky, because we needed a written permission from Carissa’s mom to drive Carissa’s car,” said Higginbottom. “I would be in a lot of trouble if I got into an accident and Carissa wasn’t in the car. I might lose my license.”

Despite the problems, some good comes out of not having a car on campus. Higginbottom said she saves about $1,000 a year in gas, not including insurance, oil and repair.

For students at HU, not owning a car is a personal choice. However, some schools don’t even allow cars on campus. Taylor University, a competitor and rival of HU, doesn’t allow freshmen to have a car on campus until after Thanksgiving break.

A recent survey of 49 HU students during lunchtime at the Habecker Dining Commons suggests that the most significant explanation for not having a car is money.

An open-ended questionnaire was used to collect opinions from students. 41.7 percent of the answers from students attributed money to explain why they don’t have a car on campus. This involved initial cost, repair, insurance and gas money. Distance from home was another substantial reason, adding up to 14.9 percent of the answers from students. Other reasons include: College experience, no license, lack of necessity, medical purposes, complications, siblings, lack of desire for a car and parents.

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