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Bethel College Student Senate institutes car co-op

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – For the second year in a row, the Bethel College Student Senate has organized a program that is money-saving, community oriented and environmentally friendly.

After realizing that a number of students don’t have their own vehicles on campus, last fall the senators organized a car co-op that allows students to contact other student volunteers to drive them where they need to go.

Student Senate Vice President Miriam Friesen, a junior from Paoli, Ind., has been in instrumental in getting the program on its feet for the second year.

“Last year at Fall Festival, a parent of a current student inquired in town as to the possibilities for transportation for students without cars,” said Friesen. “Her concern was that students who are employed off campus but do not have cars should not have to rely on expensive taxi rides or on the charity of their friends with cars.

“It became apparent that this was not an issue for a few isolated students,” Friesen continued, “but was a significant need of many students at Bethel.”

Currently, 12 students including Friesen have volunteered as drivers for the 2006-07 school year. Student can contact any of these drivers any time between of 8 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. to request a ride. Requests for local rides can be made on the spot, but requests for rides to Wichita or Hutchinson required 24-hour advance notice. Drivers have the right to decline any request.

To provide compensation for gas money, students are asked to pay drivers relative to the distance of the trip.

Elizabeth Lang, sophomore from Davenport, Iowa, is one student who has used this program. “I like having the option of a car co-op because if I can’t find a ride from a friend there is always that option to fall back on,” she said. “Also, there are enough people on the list to choose from so that if you need rides many days in a row you can pick a different person each day.”

While there are few students who use the car co-op regularly, Student Senate hopes that increased visibility and publicity in the program’s second year will make it a more readily accessible feature of campus life.

“Part of Student Senate’s goal is to organize solutions to problems that affect the student body,” said Friesen. “In addition to helping those students, it is nicer for everyone on campus when it is not necessary for every student to have a car. Fewer cars means fewer issues with parking, a more cooperative community,and less impact on the environment.”

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at

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