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Campus News

Mikel Oboyski’s magic school bus

Chase Cerbin, Staff Writer (ccerbin@wwc)

Oboyski, Captain of the "Toad"

The bus is named the Landship Golden Toad and it has been parked by the soccer field for the entire semester. Bus owner and senior Mikel Oboyski wants to set the record straight.

“I do not live on the bus, I live in Black Mountain,” Oboyski said. “Public Safety occasionally gets complaints or hears rumors that I live there, a faculty member has even asked them to look into it, but after talking to me, Public Safety is satisfied that I am not breaking any rules.”

This is not to say that Oboyski would not like to live on the bus, while it is parked on campus, were it an option. Yet legally, the college cannot allow students to live in vehicles on campus.

“First,” said Vice President for Administration and Finance Johnathan Ehrlich who investigated the issue last year, “under the county zoning ordinance a bus or other ‘primitive structure’ used to live in, regardless of location, would be classified as a “dwelling” and there are many rules that come into play when a structure is a dwelling. For openers, sewage and waste water. Warren Wilson College cannot run a sewer line to this bus, nor can it install a septic system to serve the bus. Use of a temporary portable carry-in and -out system is not permitted by the Health Department. In short, as a college we are legally bound by numerous regulations and laws which preclude the use of these types of facilities to live in.”

Students in the past have investigated living in more primitive structures, yet because of legal issues, they have been shut down.

“I would support a change in policy that would designate a space on campus for students to live in self-made structures or in RV-type vehicles,” said Oboyski. “I think it would be great if it was legal or possible to do that. I think there are a number of students who would take that opportunity and who would be able to still fulfill their obligations as a student.”

For now, the bus stays on campus because it does not fit on or around Oboyski’s current property. It is also convenient for him to keep his schoolwork and other belongings in it.

While Oboyski does not currently live on the bus, he does plan on living and traveling on it after graduation.

“Last year my friend [senior] Ella Patrick and I came up with the general idea of buying the bus and working on it during our senior year,” said Oboyski. “After graduation, we are planning on traveling across the country. We are looking to do environmental education with groups of children or we may do street art.”

The appeal of living on a bus, for Oboyski, revolves around the idea of living in a more environmentally friendly way.

“I want to be able to control all of my inputs and outputs, which I think I will be able to do later on in a bus more so than in a house which has been wired for electricity, water, and heating,” Oboyski added. “And furthermore, I was able to get an impressive list of salvaged materials from the Free Store such as tools, lumber, wooden flooring samples, and a full set of kitchen cabinets.” He is also considering a veggie-oil conversion, but plans to wait until he gets out west where the installation costs would be lower.

Oboyski atop the Landship Golden Toad

While the bus may physically be ready for a cross-country adventure, Oboyski still plans on painting the bus with his friends before the trip. So far, he does have a specific art idea in mind for part of the bus.

“The front quarter is going to be painted like a golden toad,” said Oboyski. The amphibian went extinct in 1989. “I do not know about the rest of the design yet, but I do know that it is not going be giant flowers and peace signs. That is the main guideline for the artwork: not giant flowers and peace signs.”

The painting of the bus may turn into a community project, as long as one is willing to stick to the guidelines — that is, not drawing giant flowers and peace signs.

“Once we have the materials together, I will invite others to come paint the bus on weekends. This would likely happen in the spring after the weather has warmed up again,” said Oboyski.

While the rumors of the bus may be over, Oboyski invites students, faculty or staff to contact him if they have questions or concerns about the bus or if they would like to help him paint the bus when the weather warms again.

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