SGA proposes legislation to protect pedestrians

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPcezjDrO8w]

 

Enrollment at Texas Tech University is at an all-time high – 36,551 students enrolled this fall, the biggest class in the university’s history.

With that many students on campus, the question of safety has become even more of a priority for members of the Student Government Association. External Vice President Alex DeRossi said one issue the organization is focusing on this session is pedestrian safety on campus.

DeRossi, a senior energy commerce major from Flower Mound, said earlier this semester, he was in a pedestrian safety meeting and began discussing the possibility of closing a portion of 15th Street with Sean Childers, Texas Tech assistant vice president for operations.

“We have a lot of support across campus, but we’re really looking for that final touch,” DeRossi said Childers told him. “Without student support, it’s dead.”

By Amanda Castro-Crist // The section the legislation focuses on is one of the busiest areas for pedestrians on campus, with about 5,300 people walking through the area each day.

By Amanda Castro-Crist // The section the legislation focuses on is one of the busiest areas for pedestrians on campus, with about 5,300 people walking through the area each day.

DeRossi and other members of the SGA began work on a resolution to address the issue soon after that. They proposed closing the stretch of 15th Street from Boston Avenue to Detroit Avenue, about half the distance from the Student Union Building to the College of Media and Communication.  The street is one of the heaviest areas of pedestrian traffic on campus, DeRossi said.

“There are 5,300 students on average who walk through that area per day, which is a huge number,” DeRossi said. “So when you eliminate vehicular traffic from there, you almost entirely take out the risk associated with that area.”

Claudia Bohanon, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Marshall, said she walks through the area at least twice per day. Though she said she hasn’t heard of or seen any accidents in the area, she said the proposal could still make a difference.

“I think it would help because there’s a lot of students that walk right there,” she said. “If there’s 5,300 that’s a lot kids walking on the street and I know a lot of people just cut right through in front of cars.”

“We should hopefully see something by the start of next semester, so we’re really excited about that,” DeRossi said. “Especially with this SGA administration, safety is one of our number one priorities so we would hope the faculty and staff senate share our sentiments as well.”

DeRossi said so far, he hasn’t heard any negative feedback on the proposal. He said he doesn’t expect the closure to affect most of the people who park on campus. Most drivers who park in the Administration Building parking lot generally don’t enter the campus on 15th Street from the west on Flint Avenue, but instead use other entrances like those east of the campus near University Avenue.

“One thing I have heard from professionals here, faculty and staff, is they say, ‘I avoid that street at all costs because there’s way too many students,’” he said.

By Amanda Castro-Crist // Students cross 15th Street near Boston Avenue on the Texas Tech University campus. New legislation by the Student Government Association proposes the closure of the street between Boston and Detroit avenues for pedestrian safety.

By Amanda Castro-Crist // Students cross 15th Street near Boston Avenue on the Texas Tech University campus. New legislation by the Student Government Association proposes the closure of the street between Boston and Detroit avenues for pedestrian safety.

DeRossi said he doesn’t expect the closure to cause any parking and transportation infrastructure changes. Collapsible yellow barricades would be in place from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., which are the hours the campus is already open to only those who work on campus and select visitors.

Benny Paul, a sophomore university studies major from Buffalo, New York, said he agrees with much of the proposal, but would make some slight adjustments.

“I would extend that further, I would actually close all internal traffic,” Paul said. “Not just during school hours, I’d probably go 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.”

Paul, who operates a pedicab on campus, giving free rides to students, said closing the campus to traffic would force people to use the commuter lots he said he often sees empty. As for faculty and staff who currently drive on campus, he said the answer is simple.

“If that means that employees and faculty have to walk?” he said. “(Then) walk.”

The most important thing is that students can get through the area and where they need to be without the risk of an accident, DeRossi said.

“Our main mission and our main priority for SGA is student safety and this directly affects student safety – cars come flying by there,” DeRossi said. “We really didn’t see a great need to keep it open. When you eliminate risk to that amount of students, that’s a win in our book.”

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