If you were ever a freshman at PLNU, you remember how it felt to live eight months without a car—the struggle of getting off campus, riding the shuttle to the five or so places on its route, and feeling sort of stranded in your dorm. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bitter about not being allowed to have my car on campus when I was a freshman.
However, as bitter as I was, I think there are some valuable things you can learn as a freshman by not having a car.
The first thing you learn is how to work basic public transportation. The off-campus shuttle is cool and all, but let’s face it: those five or so stops get old. If you’re like me, after a couple of weeks visiting Fashion Valley Mall, Old Town, and good old Target, you might start to get a little stir crazy. This can encourage you to find your way around beautiful San Diego—and even further—via train, bus, or Uber.
Although traveling by train and bus can be exhausting and maybe even a little grimy, it’s a skill that is important to learn, especially if you find yourself in a big city like San Francisco or New York City in the future.
When you’re forced to live without a car, you also start to make friends. It may sound shallow, but many of us as freshmen will find ourselves reaching out to upperclassmen, originally with the sole intention of being driven around. This can be the start of a beautiful friendship, maybe even a beautiful mentorship. As a freshman you can learn a lot from someone who has been around the college block a couple of years—and who knows? That junior you made friends with for the basis of getting somewhere new might become one of your closest friends.
And let’s not forget the “freshman fifteen!” It’s a countrywide phenomenon. Freshmen are known to take off for college and come home for the summer fifteen pounds heavier. But the reality is, without a car, you’re forced to walk. Since you’re forced to walk, you might be less likely to pack on those pounds—you might even be able to cut it down to the “freshman five.”
Lastly, you’re forced to take in what’s around you. We live on a beautiful campus with a breathtaking view. And being stuck on campus—although it may be a pain at times—forces us to stare at that ocean, watch those sunsets, and take a trip down to the cliffs. It forces us to check out what’s local, like the OB Farmers Market and the Point Loma Lighthouse. Let’s face it: San Diego is a beautiful city waiting to be explored. But without that car, you’re more likely to notice the beauty in your own neighborhood before taking off to downtown.
But I’ll admit, I’ve got sympathy for the freshmen. Maybe if PLNU were to add some parking, then I might be more willing to give a few freshmen—first come, first served—a parking pass. But for right now, sorry, PLNU parking is too much of a struggle. You might have to live without your vehicle for a year.
Julia Farney is a senior majoring in psychology.
I have successfully finished the first semester of my freshman year without a car. I had separation anxiety with my Honda Accord when I moved to PLNU, but my classes and effort to make friends distracted me from the fact that I did not have a set of car keys on my lanyard. Now that I have lived on campus for about three months, I believe that freshmen should be allowed to bring cars to school.
Having a car is a huge privilege, and being able to attend a private Christian university located on the beautiful Sunset Cliffs is a dream come true for nearly every student. Yet, disallowing freshmen from bringing cars to school adds stress to our already anxious and awkward adjustment to college.
Moving away to school is a huge milestone in one’s life, especially if it is a new city, state, or even country. We are told we need to act like adults and be responsible. This can be very tricky if you are only able to get off of campus four days a week and for only up to nine or ten hours a day.
The shuttle is a very convenient way to get around on the weekends, but it is hard to account for the traffic it could encounter and the amount of stops it has to take along its route. A “quick stop” to the grocery store is an hour long errand at minimum.
Allowing freshmen to have cars will also maximize their ability to explore the surrounding community and get involved with student ministries. Class schedules are not flexible and rides to certain events do not wait for everyone to show up. If freshmen had cars, they could meet up with their ministry a little late but still be able to serve.
Traveling to and from home can be overwhelmingly costly and inconvenient for freshmen. For those of us who live within several hours of Point Loma, a train ticket to home and back can add up to at least $60, and airplane tickets are even more expensive. Having a car would allow us to visit home when needed without having a family member sacrifice their whole day to drop us back off at school and spend money on transportation fees.
On the other hand, parking is limited on campus and it is already difficult for commuters, professors, and upperclassmen to find parking during school hours. This forces an overflow of cars to park in the surrounding neighborhood, which can cause tension between the community and the college. Perhaps the school can invest in building a parking structure or two to allow for more students to bring cars to school.
Freshmen are expected to act like adults—to live on their own and be responsible for themselves. This is very difficult when we are not able to run errands on our own time or be able to participate in school events. There would have to be adjustments made to the school’s campus, but the psychological and emotional benefits of allowing freshmen to have cars on campus would be profitable.
Corinne Hauck is a freshman majoring in multimedia journalism.