Construction meets crossing guards

You’ve seen the dust, you’ve heard the noise. While construction of the new Student Life and Wellness Center is well underway, crossing guards at UVU continue to help students across Campus Drive through the impending winter months. The $40 million project of the new building and adjacent parking structure, due to be completed in December 2013, lead to the closing of the adjacent pedestrian tunnel when construction began. Such changes have affected UVU students, which led to hiring crossing guards for these high-traffic areas.

“All of the crossing guards are UVU students,” said crossing guard Calie Hill. Hill, a senior from Orem, was previously involved in parking enforcement before the crossing guards were added in August. When training began, Hill admitted to being a bit apprehensive about her new position.

“[While] they do warn us that, you know, we are working outside and are therefore exposed to the elements, I’m worried about my hearing,” Hill said. “I hope that I’m not going deaf, but because we are supposed to be aware and alert, we are not allowed to wear any hearing protection.”

Despite these concerns, Hill said it is the job of the crossing guards to help students safely across the street and manage traffic.

“My boss trained me really well,” Hill said.

Jim Innes, assistant director of parking services, said that safety is “number one.” Although safety is the main focus, hiring crossing guards and implementing the crosswalk system isn’t without its costs.

Of the 16 employed staff, four students were recently hired for the purpose of facilitating the new crossing guard positions. Notwithstanding the attention that has been given to the crossing guards’ training, Innes said the training is based on live instruction, as well as “traffic training videos.”

The question does arise as to whether crossing guards are necessary and efficient in ensuring safety on campus. Are there more effective ways of solving construction and traffic issues?

Innes said that, where feasible, underground tunnels are the best solution with these kinds of problems, but that difficulties, due to the high water table especially in the lower parts of campus, play a part in preventing future plans to build more tunnels on campus at this time.

Titus Elanyu, a freshman from Uganda, agreed that building underpasses wherever possible is the best way to ensure safety and manage pedestrian traffic on campus.

“Given the nature of the situation, I feel safer having crossing guards on campus,” Elanyu said.

Elanyu uses the crosswalk on Campus Drive when heading to and from the building for the Orem Institute of Religion on Mondays and Wednesdays.

One crossing guard, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that despite the construction, crossing guards are unnecessary, especially on a college campus.

“This job is pointless,” the crossing guard said.

When interviewed about the crossing guards, one anonymous UVU student said that “a crossing guard saved my life.”

While checking his phone and walking to the Institute building, the student said he was momentarily unaware of an approaching car. He said that as he began to cross the street, the strong sunlight at the time inhibited the driver’s vision. The crossing guard jumped in front of the student and yelled out in just enough time to prevent a collision.

Crossing guards will continue to be a temporary solution for the remainder of the 18 month construction project. The underground tunnel will re-open with the Student Life and Wellness Center next December.

Students wanting the latest updates about campus construction can also visit the website http://www.uvu.edu/pardonourdust/ for more information.

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