by Jori Barash
Suspicions of something strange on campus have been on the rise since August, when an increasing number of complaints about odd smells were filed. Only two years after its founding, USC’s Lowell Institute declassified its most lucrative, albeit controversial, project.
An anonymous Lowell official cites a 2013 USG report as inspiration to reveal the massive $4.20 million project. USG’s University Affairs Committee published the report back in November, listing and analyzing several student issues. “Odd smell” was ranked 83rd among the top 100 issues for USC undergraduates behind “Professor not speaking English,” but ahead of “TA not speaking English.”
Reports of “something in the air” were most prevalent near Parking Structure D, back alleys, and the roofs of various buildings, likely because the Institute’s complex experimental ventilation system. The reports were also exclusively filed at nighttime because testing of the new vehicle could only occur in low traffic.
Little is known about the project. The Lowell Institute’s director of research, Juanita Hernandez, called the vehicle, “the future of transportation” and “really dope wheels.”
The mechanics of the Lowell ‘high-brid’ are very complex. Apparently, rather than internal combustion powering the engine, an exhalation “pushes” the vehicle after marijuana is held within a chamber. Cannabis provides the “perfect quotient of gaseous viscosity” to blow through the special engine.
This revolutionary mode of transportation is not without flaws. For the first year of development, the car could only function within a small circuit of drive-thru fast-food establishments. And when researchers did attempt internal combustion, the vehicle would not move. Early reports stated that the Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) “only wanted to chill and watch cartoons.”
The Lowell Institute admits that the vehicle has some issue which they will try to address in the near future. Reports suggest that the vehicle has a delayed response time and several testers have remarked that its GPS system sometimes forgets where it is.
According to the federal government, the vehicle is not ‘street legal.’ Anyone caught using the vehicle without the proper documentation will be subject to up to fifteen years in prison.
As of now, the vehicle is reserved for the handicapped or terminally ill, but reports suggest some young drivers are faking illness to gain access to the vehicle. “We’ve had several people asking to drive the vehicle because their normal means of transportation gives them headaches and slight back pain,” states Mrs. Hernandez.
When questioned further, Hernandez admitted that the project actually began much earlier that the Institute’s founding. Apparently, Dornsife’s department of philosophy pioneered the concept back in the late 60’s.