Commentary

Car Permission For All

There comes a time in boarding life when you just wish you could explore more of the off-campus area. Phillips Exeter Academy is located right in the town of Exeter, which is filled with quality restaurants and shops. But sometimes, we just need a change of scenery, and so try to explore other towns in the 10-mile radius. Many of my fellow PEA students travel to Epping with the Brickyard Bus. However, a bus that leaves once a week is not enough to hold the overall bustle or satisfy needs of the PEA boarding students. So, it seems that except for a couple of chance opportunities, there’s no viable way of actually exploring the area. But, what if you could just hitch a ride with a day student?

Not so fast. At PEA, according to the E-Book, for a boarder to receive a ride from a day student, the day student must be 18 or older, taking the boarding student to their house with the host family’s permission, and have an out-of-town form filed for the boarder. These car permission policies can surely be indicative of how much trust each administration has in specific groups of students. Yes, this policy is understandably centered around ensuring the safety of both the day student driver and boarding student passenger — as an 18-year-old is universally recognized, in legal contexts, as a young adult, which confers an additional assumption of maturity. However, I believe that the privilege of transporting boarders at Exeter should be extended to Lowers with driver licenses as long as the day student is a responsible driver and drives in accordance to campus rules such as the 10-mile radius rule.

A major drawback of the Exeter car permission policy is the lack of approval from the faculty on duty in the boarder’s dorms. Other than Campus Safety, it would be nice for the boarder to have at least one other staff or faculty member aware in case of an emergency during their travels with the day student. I don’t think assuming someone is mature solely based on their age of 18-years-old is the safest version of an implementable policy, so I would suggest either verbal consent from an adviser or other faculty member on the night of the travel.

The intent of any policy in the E-Book is not to explicitly highlight potential windows for punishment, but to lay the groundworks for the insurance of a balance of safety and enthusiasm for all students of Exeter. With this in mind, I hope that Exeter and Andover can learn from each other’s car permission policies to maximize both the safety and the benefits of our schools’ students.


Shaan Bhandarkar is an Upper at Phillips Exeter Academy.

Nov 10, 2017