On Thursday, November 17, the student government met in Ballrooms D and E of the student center for their bimonthly meeting. The meeting started with a presentation from guest speaker Chief of Police George Hughes about the new rules against riding bikes and skateboards on the newly-completed pedestrian plaza. Hughes explained the biker/boarder collisions and subsequent complaints that inspired the new rules.
He explained that while he realized the policy was not the most popular around campus, sometimes policies are “made out of necessity, not public opinion.” Still, he claimed that the ratio for those who complain about reckless riders to those who support allowing bikes on the plaza is actually 2 to 1.
Hughes indicated that the purpose of the new rules is to both protect pedestrians and to protect the school from costly liability lawsuits. The presentation also included an apology from Hughes for failing to seek input from the student government prior to announcing the plans for the new policy. Public Safety plans on implementing a phase-in strategy with the new policies which will give students time to adjust to the new rules before they receive citations. Hughes also expressed a desire to reward students for following the laws during the warning stage so as to encourage what he called a “change in behavior.”
At the end of his presentation, the students asked Hughes questions concerning both the best ways to implement the rule and possible alternative routes for bikers. Students expressed a concern about the lack of bike racks near the end of the pedestrian plaza, and while Hughes expressed understanding, he explained that there was really nothing that could be done to create new bike racks that is not already being done. The main concern of the students seemed to be that as the administration tries to create a more pedestrian-friendly campus, bike and skateboard routes would continue to be restricted until it would no longer be a reasonable transportation option. The response from Hughes was that if further restrictions occurred, he would support the students in resisting it.
After a brief break, the meeting then moved onto fielding concerns from students around campus that have posted on the website “What’s Your Beef,” which enables students to post their suggestions for changes they would like to see around campus. Suggestions that were discussed on Tuesday night included the possibility of having students fill out teacher evaluations twice a semester instead of just once, thus enabling teachers to more actively change their methods in a way that current students can benefit from. Some students expressed a concern that evaluations for freshman would simply turn into a way to scapegoat the blame for receiving a bad grade on a test. No conclusive opinion or decision was reached. The meeting concluded by recapping the faculty senate meeting and the proposals discussed there as well as discussing this weekends upcoming “Spudlympics” and the jobs of the individual classes.