No car. No ride. How about the Quinnipiac van service for convenient travel?
The van service is used to accommodate students who wish to attend a planned off campus activity, such as a concert, the movie theatre, a shopping mall or other events.
This year there are eight trained student drivers employed, and Student Center managers are also authorized to use the vans, said Kerstin Soderlund, director of the Carl Hansen Student Center.
“It’s been working,” said Ilena Andrich, secretary of campus reservations and information center in the Student Center. “The students are responsible for the trip.”
For ten years, the Student Center has provided the van service, said Andrich. A professional CDL license driver is hired to make trips using the 15 passenger van, while student drivers are paid $8 an hour to drive a full day using one of the two, six passenger vans.
Under the van jurisdiction, transportation to and from each event is only as far North as Massachusetts, and as far South as New York City. Students using the van service may encounter additional costs from parking fees at the facility or from highway tolls.
The Student Center administration does not reserve the vans to make the same trip each week; they try to give students a variety of destinations. And the van service does not make trips to facilities where alcohol is served.
“I can tell you the vans are used quite regularly,” said Soderlund about the popularity of the service.
One QU student is pleased with the service.
“It allows me to have some RA programs off campus when there aren’t enough people to get a bus,” said Felicity Melillo, Residential Assistant in the Mountainview dorm. “I am pretty sure the residents seem to like it too, and it is convenient for everybody.”
Students interested in using the van service are required to fill out an application at the campus reservations booth in the Student Center. Andrich then reviews and approves each application. She also provides a confirmation date via e-mail to each student passenger.
It is a requirement for students to rent the van one week prior to the date of the trip. Students must also fill out an agreement, which explains that the Student Center will not be responsible if the van breaks down.
After the van has been rented, Andrich looks over each student driver’s schedule to see who is available to drive on the day of the trip.
“The service depends on the student driver’s schedule,” said Andrich. “And time flexibility.”
A Quinnipiac junior shares her reason for becoming a student driver.
“I became a driver so I could have a flexible job,” said Karen Graham, a Student Center manager for two years. “Being a driver allowed me to work around my schedule and chose when I wanted to work.”
Graham said it is part of her job as a Student Center manager to become a van driver. Each student receives a mandatory driving test through the Sears driving school, which is managed by Soderlund. The student drivers are also given a written informational test during a three-hour workshop as part of their training, said Andrich.
Some student drivers share their favorite part of being behind the wheel.
“I like getting paid to have fun,” said David Ibbitson, a two-year Student Center manager and driver.
Graham can see the benefits of being a driver.
“My favorite part of the job is being able to drive without having to spend my own money on gas,” said Graham. “It is also great to hear ‘thank you’ from other students after dropping off a group at their destination. This tells me that what I do is appreciated.”
Although Andrich said the student drivers do a good job, she said there is a need for more professional drivers operating the vans.
“Personally, I would like to see professional drivers because of better availability,” said Andrich. “The larger van would be used more, and would have a bigger capacity.”
Some student drivers disagreed.
“Seeing as all the (student) drivers have been through a van driving course, I don’t see a need for professional drivers,” said Graham. “By having student drivers, those who use the service are usually interested in how we got our job and what it entails.”
One driver was concerned with student’s job needs.
“I would rather see more student drivers,” said Ibbitson. “There are not a lot of jobs that students without financial aid (work-study) can acquire on campus. If the school was to hire professional drivers, the students without work-study would be losing one of their few job opportunities on campus.”
It is not the intent of the Student Center administration, at this point, to expand the number of drivers or vans for the service, now that the Hamden and New Haven shuttles are available, said Soderlund.
The van service is publicized through the Quinnipiac student handbook, during admissions tours, and additional information is given to incoming freshman each year.
For more information about using the van service or to become a trained student driver contact Ilena Andrich at x8351 or visit the Campus Reservations booth in the Student Center.