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No Cars for Freshmen

July 5, 2009

by Abhi Nemani
No Cars for Freshmen

This year's freshmen class will not be allowed to have cars on campus, according to a mailer sent out to the class of 2013. The Claremont Conservative had reported about the change in policy, and now we have visual confirmation of the notice.

As seen in the image above, freshmen were informed earlier this year that they would no longer be allowed to bring cars on campus. Interestingly, it seems that the policy change was announced after the application deadline, which means that early decision applicants applied with the understanding that they could bring cars. New student response remains to be seen.

Such a restriction is increasingly common at undergraduate institutions, usually citing logistical, environmental, or safety concerns. But the mailer sent to CMC freshmen offered no explanation. An obvious reason for CMC's policy change would be parking limitations. With a growing student body and a fixed number of parking spots (for now), the administration would have to take some action to ease the strain on facilities. That said, the upcoming Kravis Center promises expanded parking spaces, which may solve this problem and undermine the rationale for the restriction. Yet completion of construction is years away.

Meanwhile, this change in policy may, unexpectedly, boost car sharing on campus. The number (and so the availability) of ZipCars--the hourly car rental service--has grown over the past few years, and students can check out cars from both Pomona's and Pitzer's campuses. Unlike most rental services, Zipcar does not have a 25-year-old age requirement, so as long as you're over 18, freshmen--and others, of course--you are eligible for membership. Rates are $7 per hour or $48 per day, and users are required to register a few days before first use (i.e. don't decide to get a Zipcar the day you need it).

At the moment, the only other independent options seem to be SuperShuttle or a taxi, unless you're able to charter the busy iPlace vans (see DoS) or the pay-per-hour Sagehen Shuttles. So it seems that next year some freshmen looking to get off-campus will have to pay for this change in CMC policy.

UPDATE - We've tracked down some more information on the new policy in the freshmen orientation materials online:

Are there parking fees? Is a bike a good option? Freshmen are not permitted to bring cars to campus. We believe that new students should spend more time on-campus, developing their friendships and settling in at the College. Although about half of returning sophomores, juniors, and seniors do bring cars to campus, it is not a necessary part of the CMC experience. Plenty of students ride bicycles or skateboards to get food or run small errands nearby, or even to get to class, but none of these things are necessary. All classes are within easy walking distance, except in rare instances when two classes on different campuses are scheduled too closely together.

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