By Lauren Sobczak
KU students, like many of their peers from other universities, enjoy the convenience of a shuttle bus service that transports them across the north and south sides of campus, as well as to off-campus locations. Much more important than the convenience factor, however, is the sense of security that this service provides for students.
According to the official website, KU’s campus expands across 289 acres of land. While KU is not the largest of the PA State System of Higher Education Schools, KU can still pose a polar challenge, such as when students must trek from the Tri-County dorms to Lytle Hall, or the previously dubbed “Lytle House on the Prairie,” on a frigid and frosty day in February.
Not only are the KU shuttles a warm haven for the glacially-challenged, but they are also beacons of safety for individual students.
In light of recent events both in and around KU, it is essential that we consider ways in which to fortify our current measure of protecting KU students. KU’s shuttle bus system, providing safe passage for students between academic buildings and on and off-campus housing, is one of the safeguards that must be evaluated.
Unfortunately, when compared to other state universities, KU falls short of secure, lacking a safe and solid shuttle bus schedule.
While KU’s on-campus continuous loop extends from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, the off-campus continuous loop only extends from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
In addition, late night continuous loops only occur Thursday through Saturday from 7:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. One night a week, on Wednesdays, the shuttle makes less continuous trips between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
This schedule not only neglects to cover night hours for the majority of the week, but it also leaves students less protected during these times.
As shuttle bus stops are all near the emergency stations around campus, it is safest for students who must be studying at the library, in class, or working in one of the academic buildings, to await a ride from the shuttle in these locations in the event of an emergency.
Sadly, this is not an option, as the shuttle bus schedule is not consistent with the library hours, or night classes.
As a commuter and student in the department of education, this issue has impacted me. I have offered weekly chauffeur services to friends in classes that ended at 9:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, a required course for education majors, or other classes that ended after dark.
I felt uneasy about leaving my friends, both male and female, to walk across campus in the dark, in poor weather conditions or alone.
KU is not entirely alone on this issue, but other universities in the PASSHE system are leading by example.
According to the Bloomsburg University website, the BU shuttle bus service is available to students from 7:30 a.m. through midnight from Monday to Friday and from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Fridays. BU also offers continuous service on Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. through 7:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 10:15 a.m. to midnight.
The individuals who established these services at this university are conscious of the course schedules, including night classes that students take, and promote studying at the university library, by providing them with safe passage home at the end of the night.
Other universities have adopted similar schedules, including West Chester University. WCU’s shuttle bus schedule includes a 7:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. run during all weekdays and evening hours from Monday through Friday 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Weekend hours for WCU include 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. runs on both Saturdays and Sundays and special service hours run for events, such as final exam weeks.
It is clear that other universities are prioritizing the safety and sense of security that their students deserve when taking night classes, working late and studying outside of their homes on campus. It is time that KU joins its PASSHE peers and adopts a shuttle bus schedule that ensures transportation after dark during the week.
Hopefully, the future of KU will see a shuttle bus schedule that ensures a sense of student security and expands beyond the constraints of the current dawn to dusk system.