IN President Burton's administration the rapidly increasing use by students of privately owned automobiles was recognized as a problem which would soon demand attention. University officials felt that the automobile was necessary to a student only in exceptional instances, and that it often proved a positive detriment to the best interests of the individual owner.
In the summer of 1923, the following resolution, adopted by the conference of deans on June 6, was approved by the Regents on June 14:
Resolved, That this Conference reiterate its recommendation to the Board of Regents regarding the use of automobiles by students, namely, that the policy be that of disapproval, and that the University students and their parents should be asked to cooperate with the University authorities toward lessening the use of automobiles by students.
(R.P., 1920-23, p. 811.)
The effects of this appeal were at best only temporary, and by 1925-26 it was apparent that the situation called for University legislation. Many students were maintaining cars in Ann Arbor, and serious accidents had occurred. Moreover, it was the opinion of the University administration that the unlimited use of automobiles by students too often was leading to a serious waste of time, to the growth of many forms of extravagance, and to an increase in practices which, besides distracting the students from the purposes for which they came to the University, involved moral risk.
Upon the recommendation of University Page 301officers and representatives of the Student Council and other student organizations, the Regents authorized regulations to prohibit lowerclassmen, beginning with the class of 1930, from owning or operating a car while the University was in session; and beginning with the second semester of 1926-27, students scholastically ineligible to take part in extracurricular activities. Registration of cars with the Office of the Dean of Students was required, and the administration and enforcement of the rules was placed in the hands of a committee, appointed by the president of the Student Council, which was to try cases of infringement of the rules.
During the year 1926-27 these rules were enforced by a committee consisting of five students and two faculty members. At the conclusion of the year, this committee recommended various changes, particularly in the interpretation and enforcement of the ruling. Among other things, the committee report suggested that necessary driving be approved by the issuance of individual permits, that students who were more than thirty years of age or were married should be allowed the use of their cars, and that the enforcement of the ruling be delegated to the department of the Dean of Students and assisted by campus policemen.
On June 17, 1927, after careful consideration of the situation, the Regents of the University passed the following resolution:
Resolved, That no student in attendance at the University from and after the beginning of the first semester of the University year 1927-28 shall operate any motor vehicle. In exceptional and extraordinary cases in the discretion of the Dean of Students this rule may be relaxed.
(R.P., 1926-29, p. 244.)
The clause "exceptional and extraordinary cases" has been interpreted to include the operation of cars for family, commuting, health, and business purposes. Driving for personal or social reasons was not interpreted as exceptional and was forbidden by the regulation. Those students over thirty years of age or who held a faculty ranking of teaching assistant or higher or who were enrolled as part-time students were granted exemption from the ruling.
This interpretation was based largely upon the recommendations made by the student-faculty committee which had attempted to enforce the restrictions on the operation of cars during the year 1926-27. An assistant to the dean of students was appointed to administer the ruling, and two men were employed to patrol Ann Arbor and vicinity for the purpose of apprehending violators of the regulation.
The several classifications of driving permits originally established have been found satisfactory and remain unchanged. The age limit for exemption has been reduced from thirty years of age to twenty-six years. Students whose homes are located at least 150 miles from Ann Arbor are allowed to store cars in Ann Arbor for vacation use, provided the cars are promptly registered at the Office of the Dean of Students.
The Regents in December, 1927, extended the automobile regulation to apply to the summer session of 1928, and the following month they directed that during the summer session the prohibition of the use of automobiles would not apply to those who in the academic year are engaged in professional pursuits (as, for example, teachers, lawyers, physicians, and dentists), those attending the Public Health Institute, or those special cases in which, within his discretion, the dean of students waives the restrictions.
In accordance with the authority granted to the dean of students the recreational use of cars was granted to summer session students not included Page 302in the above classification. Under this arrangement students were allowed to drive for outdoor athletic recreation such as golf, tennis, and swimming. The carrying of passengers was permitted with the restriction that mixed company would not be allowed in student cars after 9:00 p.m. These summer privileges have not been changed.
Since the Regents' action in June, 1927, there has been a definite decrease in the number of accidents and injuries resulting from the student operation of cars. During that period and while the ruling has been in force, only two students have been killed while driving cars. The regulation has reduced week-end trips by students, thereby increasing interest and participation in campus activities.
At first this restriction of driving privileges was disapproved by many members of the student body, and rather severe disciplinary penalties were required in order to secure a general observance of this rule of the Regents. After a time, however, it became quite generally accepted by the student body, and in the fall of 1933 an all-campus poll, conducted by the Michigan Daily, favored a continuation of the automobile ban by a vote of nearly three to one.