Going home for Thanksgiving break can mean many hours spent on the road for many people. While most students spend time making sure their grades are in check, many do not do the same for their car and end up driving without awareness of any issues. Luckily, a group on campus has a solution.
Brenda Breezeel, Brackett Library systems administrator and coordinator of the free vehicle check, said she and her husband, Steven Breezeel, chair of the history and political science department, started the event four years ago. Brenda said the idea was sparked from students at their house who needed air in their tires or who needed help with checking their oil. From that came the idea of taking their own air compressor to campus and making several other routine checks on students’ cars.
“Usually students will pull up in a line, and with about four or five air compressors, the faculty will divvy up in pairs with one person checking the air and the next checking the oil,” Brenda said.
Brenda said the first year, around 200 cars had their tire pressure, oil, radiator and windshield washer fluid levels checked.
“We’re all looking out for each other. I know it’s important when your kids start driving, especially to another state, for them to be safe,” Brenda said. “I want students to get home safe without stress on their own or parents’ part from anything like a flat tire.”
Senior Hailey Fields said that as a student, she may get her oil checked regularly, but a normal check up on her car almost never happens. Fields said during her second year attending the vehicle check, in addition to topping off some fluids, they informed her that her brakes were almost rusted out and recommended she see a mechanic.
“Having something that is free and on-campus and easy is good for people like me because without it, I could easily leave driving in an unsafe car,” Fields said. “While the faculty helping are not mechanics themselves, I admire that they use a simple skill to help the people around them.”
Stephen Warren, associate professor of the College of Education, said if his daughter or son were attending a university hundreds of miles from home, he would appreciate that university making an effort to ensure his or her car was safe and maintained before making the trip.
“It’s fun and casual, and it always involves creating new relationships,” Warren said. “Students get to know a few professors that they may otherwise never meet, and we get to meet and chat with so many students we haven’t met.”
Gregory Brooks, assistant dean of student affairs in the Carr College of Nursing, said many students on campus may not understand automobile maintenance or needs. Many students are here to focus primarily on their studies and do not think about the smaller details such as making sure their car is safe for a trip back home. There are some students who are unsure about what is needed for their car and may not be familiar with who to take it to here in town, being an out of town resident.
“An event like this helps set us apart from other colleges and universities,” Brooks said. “This event shows we not only care about our students’ academic success, but we care about their overall well-being [while] making sure they are safe and ready to go home for the holidays.”