By Sean Gormley Hoya Staff Writer

Georgetown students passing by Healy Circle Sunday were treated to the sight of a Volunteer and Public Service Center van with its sliding door sitting at its feet, compliments of Alex Belser (COL ’02). Belser was heading to pick up students Sunday morning for the service project Friends of Lorton when the door fell off.

Friends of Lorton is a program in which Georgetown students tutor inmates at Lorton prison in Laurel, Md.

The incident, which marks the third time a door has fallen off a VPS van this academic year, occurred as Belser was pulling the van into the Canal Road Exxon station to be fill it up with gas, when the door flew open. As the sliding door opened, Belser said “everything fell off, the door was making violent sparks, hanging on by a thread . luckily, no one else was in the van.”

According to Belser, one single wheel bearing had kept the door attached to the van, so he slowly drove back up to campus after reattaching the door as best he could.

While Belser was driving up the hill leading to the Canal Road campus entrance, he said, the door completely fell off of the van towards a following taxi. Belser then wedged the door into the van and drove to the base of the John Carroll statue in Healy Circle, where he left the vehicle as a sign of his frustration.

“If there had been gas [in the tank] the door could have fallen off when driving along the highway and injured someone,” Belser said.

The safety of VPS vans has already been an issue leading to student concerns this academic year. VPS has 12 vans, six of which are nearly 10 years old and only one of which has been purchased in the last four months.

In fact, the sliding door had previously fallen off this same van, but according to Stacie Kaplan, VPS office manager and vehicle supervisor, it had been taken to a body shop and repaired.

Kaplan said that, according to the university garage, the doors fall off only when they are open while the van is being driven. Belser said the door was closed when he was driving.

According to Kaplan, the incident has not yet been fully investigated by VPS, and she did not have any comment as to the cause of the problem.

VPS has been looking to upgrade its vehicles, but does not have available funds. In November, a letter listing the vans’ problems was presented to the VPS board. That letter was forwarded to Dean of Students James A. Donahue in the hopes of addressing the difficulties with the vans.

In the meantime, VPS has installed cellular phones in all vans for students to use in the event of a problem, although some of those phones have already been stolen.

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