College modifies van policy
Quite a few changes were made to the Bowdoin campus for
the fall semester and while the addition of the Astroturf field or the
completion of the renovations to H&L Library may be the most noticeable,
one of the most important changes concerned the college van fleet.
Gone are all but three of the 15-passenger vans that used
to shuttle students around campus, on field trips and Outing Club adventures,
and to and from athletic events. In their place exists a fleet of shiny
new Dodge Caravans. The minivans, which seat seven, are considered far
safer than the 15-passenger vans that they replace.
The decision to make the switch came after numerous media
sources (including The Orient) reported on the notorious safety record
of the full size vans and the National Transportation Safety Board released
reports cautioning against their use. Over the summer, the NTSB released
an advisory to college and university safety officers throughout the country
recommending against the further use of the 15-passenger vans, or at the
very least that certain precautions be taken to enhance the safety of
Sue Daignault, Bowdoin's Director of Environmental Health
and Safety, received the advisory from the NTSB and the decision was made
to end the use of the dangerous vans before the start of the fall semester.
According to Communications director Scott Hood, the process
of changing fully to the new vans is still under way. As of yet there
is no actual written van use policy for the college.
Said Hood, "The feeling was that it was more important
to go ahead and switch over the vans in time for the start of the semester
and worry about getting it down in writing later." The college does
still have three of the 15-passenger vans as part of its fleet. Hood said
that new safety measures were in effect regarding the use of those remaining
vans including only allowing eight passengers and a restriction on the
amount of gear or luggage being carried.
Safety procedures are also in place for the new minivans
as well. As before, students are allowed to operate the new vans. To do
so they must take part in a vehicle operations course offered by the college.
Hood also mentioned that the college hopes to have completely
phased out the last of the 15-passenger vans in the very near future.
Bowdoin leases its fleet of vans so it has been a relatively simple transition
to swap the old vans for the newer safer ones. The expectation is that
by rearranging the lease and swapping the vans, there should be no increase
in cost to the College.
The Outing Club has made changes as well. More buses and
other vehicles were employed in the transportation of this years pre-orientation
trips, and the vans have been mostly removed from use there as well. Hood
said he had been informed that the Outing Club was now using other vehicles;
"They are having to take more vehicles than in the past, and are
using pickups when available to haul gear."
Bowdoin's athletes, who will travel more by bus than in
previous seasons and will have to take more vans than before, will also
experience the change in vans. This is the area where the change in policy
should have the greatest effect, as it was primarily athletic teams who
suffered accidents in 15-passengers vans throughout the nation.
Bowdoin has taken the necessary steps to ensure the safety
of its student body and has managed to do so in a cost efficient and reliable
way. Many have commended the College for making the changes while many
other schools continue to use their 15-passenger vans.