"Baby you can drive my car" is more than just a Beatles lyric for some first years.
A warning sent out two weeks ago by Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster brought to light the tricky way some students navigate around the policy that prevents first year students from having a car on campus.
The statement, sent out by Foster to the entire student body, explained that some first years "have approached upper-class students, asking them to register their cars in exchange for the use of the car."
Foster wrote, "While this is a creative approach for getting around the rules, it defeats the rationale behind the policy and is considered a violation."
Instituted in the fall of 2009, the policy prohibits first year Bowdoin students from keeping a car on campus. It relies on the honor system and the registration of on-campus cars through Bowdoin Security.
While the policy is well-known on campus, many students may be misinformed about the purpose of the car ban, which was enacted in the interest of sustainability, rather than for lack of parking space.
An article published on the Bowdoin website in 2009 explained that "The move [was] part of the College's ongoing efforts to promote sustainability and environmental responsibility. It is also intended to foster an even greater sense of community and involvement by first year students during the very important first year of college."
The Class of 2014 President Alex Tougas agreed with the policy, stating that "freshman shouldn't have cars. There are plenty of other options [and] not having cars reduces our carbon footprint."
While the motivation behind the ban was not widely publicized, the administration made sure to extensively inform students prior to their arrival at Bowdoin that cars are not allowed during the first year.
Dean Foster included a list of alternative transportation options. In a letter sent home to both these students and their parents.
"A first-year student who had made an arrangement with a sophomore to register his car for him had a change of heart. Before affixing the parking decal to his car, the student went to Security and told them what he had done," said Foster. "We had a few conversations and learned that there might be a handful of other first year students who had made similar arrangements with upperclass students."
In a follow-up email to the Orient, Dean Foster discussed the specific incident which prompted the campus wide warning.
Sam Karson '14, confirmed that the suspicions of the administration are legitimate.
"I know of freshmen who have cars on campus," said Karson. "I'm not sure how they keep them under wraps except that they may have them registered under the name of an upperclassman, as Dean Foster mentioned."
Although there is no prototype for disciplinary action in cases like this, and none is planned, Foster did speculate on possible ramifications for attempting to circumnavigate the ban.
"First year students and upperclass students who make such choices will be subject to College disciplinary action," said Foster.
Director of Security Randy Nichols discussed the warning as a pre-emptive measure.
"We are taking a preventative approach to enforcement to encourage first year students to voluntarily comply with the campus parking prohibition so that disciplinary action will not be necessary," said Nichols. "This is not a widespread problem, so we want to be proactive. The only change we have made is the addition of an advisory on the online student parking registration page."
While no first years are allowed cars, Security can make exceptions for students with medical conditions or for what Foster calls "extraordinary circumstances."