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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

After accidents, golf cart program hobbles along

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Easily visible around campus, golf carts used by injured students to get around campus are increasing in number. However, the spike in golf cart misuse by students also causes concern for the administration and security, and could spell the end of the program.

Coordinator of Disability Services, Andy Christensen, says students with mobility issues need a way to get to class, but “this campus is very inhospitable to people with mobility issues.” Because Carleton is too small to provide a shuttle service, individual golf carts enable injured or immobile students to access campus more easily.

Christensen noted how useful the system is for students. “The idea here is that you’re paying so much money to go to this school, and it’s going so fast during the ten week term, you really can’t be compromised by not being able to get around.”

Marcus Irrthum ’18, who used a golf cart after a hip surgery, said the cart “helped me to get around campus and go to my job.”

A student in need of a golf cart contacts Disability Services, who provides one through an independent vendor. Students are expected to pay for their own cart, but “we don’t want a student who can barely afford the percentage of tuition that they pay to not have this, so we’ll work something out” if the student demonstrates need, says Christensen. After signing a waver stating they will not misuse the vehicle or operate it under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and registering the golf cart with security and area directors, students become responsible for any damage to the cart or caused by the cart.

Currently, four carts are in use on campus, which is “the highest number we’ve ever had,” according to both Christensen and Director of Security Services Wayne Eisenhuth. With the increased use, the number of incidences with the carts has also increased. Eisenhuth noted “There were 3-4 this fall, there’s been 3-4 this winter already.”

According to Eisenhuth, “it’s the usual misuse, giving rides riding in the streets even though the carts don’t have head lights or tail lights, and one person reported that they were trying to throw people off the golf carts, making sharp turns.”

Margot Radding ’18, corroborated this story, saying “one time on the hill outside of Myers I saw a golf cart driving recklessly, flinging people off each time they reached the bottom. It was pretty funny. I don’t necessarily know if that’s misuse, though.”

Security and disability services, however, did not find this incident amusing. Expressing concern over students’ safety and school’s liability, Christensen said “we can’t tolerate any misuse” with the golf carts. “We’re really doing everything we can to help people do this safely, but the misuse is a real concern about whether or not we can continue to do this.”

Eisenhuth added that “with the golf carts, there’s too much potential for abuse, and we’ve had a long history of abuse. They’ve done damage to the grounds, and they’ve done damage to the trees. A golf cart is made for a golf course, not a college campus.”

The administration is considering all options and alternatives to the current system, such as single-seat carts, but “right now there isn’t a better idea,” according to Christensen.

While Eisenhuth expressed doubts about the program, he emphasized that “I’m not doing this to be an ogre or anti-student; I just don’t want to see anyone get hurt.” Christensen also said that “College students in general have moments when they don’t think, and that’s fine, but we just want people to be aware of the implications around this particular issue.”

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