While Yale students do not need a car to get a cup of coffee or a winter coat in New Haven, one does come in handy for transporting a dozen barrels of hay.
“There have been a lot of weird things in the back of my truck,” said Sam Landenwitsch ’06, who was in charge of moving the hay supply for the Yale Sustainable Food Project’s Harvest Festival to Old Campus last Friday.
Many students like Landenwitsch choose to keep a car on campus for their extracurricular activities, which often require transporting large numbers of students and materials. Others said they prefer the independence that having their own transportation provides them. And despite the issue of paying for parking, most undergraduates with cars say it is worth the price.
Landenwitsch, a Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trips leader, originally brought his Chevy truck to New Haven to carry supplies for the hiking trip. He has since decided to keep it in the Elm City to help move goods for the Sustainable Food Project.
Instead of carrying massive amounts of food, Matthew Gabbard ’07 transports large numbers of people. Gabbard, whose a cappella group Redhot and Blue travels off campus frequently for concerts or other activities, brought his car to campus in August. Gabbard said he has squeezed up to fourteen members of his group in his car at once. But apart from his a cappella duties, Gabbard said he was content for the past two years without a car.
“Because we have so much going on on campus, having a car is not a necessity,” Gabbard said.
Many athletes said they found cars convenient for traveling to and from practice. Jonathan Koenig ’08, a member of the Yale men’s lacrosse team, keeps his car in New Haven because he regularly drives out to the IM fields. Although buses from Payne Whitney Gymnasium to the fields run roughly every fifteen minutes, Koenig said he — along with about 80 percent of the upperclassmen on his team — prefer not to rely on the bus schedule.
“It is easier to know you always have a ride,” he said.
Koenig said he also uses his car for community service and drives to low-income neighborhoods every week to provide after school recreation for underprivileged children.
But not all car usage is related to extracurricular commitments. Many students with cars said they often leave the campus for personal reasons, whether to go home, visit friends, watch sporting events, or just get away for fun. In fact, Gabbard, Landenwitsch and Koenig all left New Haven this past weekend.
“I feel like freshman and sophomores shouldn’t have cars because then there is a tendency to go away.” Landenwitsch said. “And then they are not as involved with the social life on campus.”
But Jack Noble ’09 said having his car here does not change his social life.
“It just makes things easier,” he said.
Noble said he brought his car to New Haven from Birmingham, Ala. this year simply because he enjoys driving, and he does not like the idea of being stuck in one place. He said his car provides him with a sense of control and serves as a stress-reliever. On average, Noble said he uses his car two to three times per week, either for a release or for errands. He frequently drives around listening to music with his friends, and sometimes he even takes road trips for the weekend.
As a freshman, Noble is one of the few people in his class to actually have a car on campus this year.
“Yale discourages it,” Noble said. “But the school can’t do anything about it. They just can’t always guarantee parking.”
But Donald Relihan, the director of Support Services for Yale Parking Services, said Yale Parking Services never turns down students who want parking. Relihan said there are approximately 300 undergraduates registered in four to five of the University’s primary lots.
The most popular of these is the Pierson-Sage garage located at 260 Whitney Avenue. Landenwitsch, who currently rents a spot there, pays $75 per month, which he said he believes is the best deal around campus. Though it is distant from most students, the garage’s proximity to the organic farm makes it a convenient place for him to park, he said.
Others opt for lots closer to their dorms or houses. Koenig said he would not bother to keep a car if he did not have easy access to parking. A current resident of Swing Space, he parks at a privately-owned car service center at the corner of Ashmun and Lake streets. There, Koenig said a “little old guy” allows four students to park in his garage for 80 dollars each month, as long as they give him an extra set of car keys. Gabbard pays $90 a month to park in the Crown Street Garage, which is owned by the city of New Haven.
And Noble, a resident of Silliman college, said he is willing to pay approximately $120 dollars per month to park in a lot one block away from his room. Though he said the fee of four dollars per day may seem expensive, it ensures renters like Noble a spot for nine months.
While having a car is beneficial to both extracurricular and personal life, Koenig noted that there is one major drawback.
“The only problem is that everyone always ask to borrow the car,” he said. “It’s so annoying. You give a little and then they take a lot.”