Vans cut from fleet for safety; groups must pay for gas

The wheels on the vans go round and round; however, the numbers of wheels have been cut significantly here as Eastern has recently discontinued use of several of the university’s 15-passenger vans.

The cut, which was made over the summer, was made for a number of reasons, according to Bettie Ann Brigham, vice president of Student Development.

“We got a lot of input from insurance companies, the media and other colleges, and eventually found there were many risks and dangers involved with the 15-passenger vans,” Brigham said.

As of last year, the university had nine vans under its name. Three of those vans were cut before the end of last spring, and two more were dropped from the fleet this past summer.

Brigham and other university officials understood the risks of the vans such as too much weight, loud noise and the high center of gravity.

With all of these factors, “an accident was very likely to occur,” Brigham said.

The vans no longer in use were leased vans, so the university simply stopped lease payments, and the vans were returned to their respective dealers.

As the school’s van fleet has been depleted, different club groups who relied on these vans are going to be affected in many ways.

Andy Horvath, coordinator of Service Learning and Campus Ministries, is not worried about the smaller number of vans available to the different activities.

“In the past, service learning has always gotten the last share of vans after the athletic department,” said Horvath.

The trips that Horvath supervises run shorter in time and distance, many into the city of Philadelphia and surrounding areas. According to Horvath, the athletes will be taking bigger buses to their competitions, which will still leave vans for his projects.

One of the larger groups that Horvath supervises is Youth Against Complacency and Homelessness Today.

“YACHT is not going to be affected by any shortages. Andy Horvath has done a very careful job arranging the van schedules so that all the groups who need them can get them,” said senior Amanda Cattley, an active member of the club.

Another group that may be affected by the van change is the university’s athletic program.

“Many athletes would rather ride in a larger bus anyway, simply because they are more accommodating,” Brigham said.

The change will also affect campus groups and ministries financially. When the fleet was larger, Student Development would pay for the maintenance of the vans, which mostly included gas money.

Now, along with requesting the vans earlier, clubs will have to “build into their budgets and fund the vans themselves, which was something that they have not had to do before,” Brigham said.

Clubs must set up extra fundraisers and activities in order to fund money for transportation.

Regardless of the different changes that will have to be made, the vans left in the fleet remain important to the Eastern community.

“No matter how many vans we have, you have to remember, our students have been able to help kids read better, help feed the homeless and help people lose their addictions,” Horvath said.

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