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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Do you really need a car at Brandeis?

Yes or no? Either way, parking on campus is a problem.

Published: March 14, 2008
Section: Features

The Jeep Compass outside East Pomerantz had another parking violation for being parked just outside the main entrance rather than in a spot in the lot. Why is it always parked there? Is that guy so reliant on his car that he can’t make it past the door without it?

I have a car that’s parked safely in my driveway approximately 325 miles from here, and the number of times I drive it during the school year is the same number of times that I need it: zero.

Even a walk across the entirety of the campus, from East to Sachar, takes only eleven minutes if walked at a brisk pace. What would I do with a car?

The benefits to not having a car on campus are great.

“It’s cheaper, I don’t have to pay for gas, if I need to go to Moody Street I can just take the Bran Van. It’s easier to get into Boston on the train anyway,” said Dan Wengrovitz ‘10. “If I need a car, I can always borrow a friend’s.” Not to mention the issue of safety. Recently, GPS navigation systems have been an object of theft in Brandeis parking lots, prompting Public Safety to post notices around campus reminding people not to leave their GPS’s in their cars.

“I would worry if I couldn’t see my car all the time, Like if it were in J-lot I would worry,” stated Ben Silver ‘10, who was one of the lucky few to get a parking pass for East parking lot.

Tickets are another factor.

“I’ve gotten tickets for parking in the wrong lot on campus. It was so annoying. I would park in a lot I wasn’t supposed to for only twenty minutes and find a ticket,” noted Samantha Lakin ‘08. Her pain is shared by many others.

With only 35 parking spots available in East and a dearth of spots in X-lot due to the construction of a parking garage, the hassle of avoiding tickets is often greater than the time necessary to simply walk to class or ride a bike, even if you live off campus.

Then you have the friends who love to ask for rides, or even the keys. Although Silver noted that such occurrences don’t happen too often, when they do it can be bothersome.

“If people have no reason to be going where their going and they’re not inviting me then I say no.”

Nevertheless, some students, such as Silver and Lakin, feel that the benefits to having a car on campus more than outweigh the costs. “It’s easier to get to Waltham and Moody Street, it’s the only way to get to the malls. The Bran Van runs on a schedule, you don’t know exactly when it’s going to come, and if it fills up you’ve got to wait till the next one. If you have a car it’s a million times better,” explained Silver.

Lakin, who teaches Hebrew school in Acton once a week and takes weekly dance lessons in Cambridge, believes that for people with outside commitments like hers a car is a must.

“It’s the most convenient way to get around…if I’m going to Moody Street or Waltham it takes less time [to drive] and I can do it at my own convenience, which is important because I have a busy schedule.”

Off campus trips may be one thing, but students using their cars just to get from housing to class is another.

“I always see long lines of cars sitting near the crosswalk by Rabb steps,” Wengrovitz noted. “They just sit there for minutes at a time…I frequently pass cars waiting in line on my way to class, and I’m making better time [on foot] than they are.”

Wengrovitz, who lives in East Quad, noted that he might find more incentive to have a car if he were to live in Grad. “It does limit you in terms of off campus housing, it deterred me from getting a grad next year because it takes so long to get to campus…you have to plan out your day around your trips to campus or you need a car.”

Students may feel less of a need for personal vehicles once Zipcar is officially introduced to campus in the next few weeks. With Zipcar, students can rent a car already parked on campus for an hourly rate of less than $10 an hour and a small monthly fee, and not deal with the hassles of ownership. In the meantime, parking and traffic are still issues on Peripheral Road. Thank goodness I can walk right by it on my way to class.