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BU-Waco relations to suffer if bridge closes

Feb. 8, 2001

Members of student government and Jim Doak, the director of public safety, may go forward with a plan that could further damage relations between Baylor and the rest of Waco. In conjunction with their Safety 2001 initiative, they will take a vote today to close down the Eighth Street walkway bridge.

The basis of the initiative is commendable because a group is finally actively fighting for the safety of students on and off campus, but they are wasting their time in a poorly thought-out plan by trying to close down something that does not belong to them.

One would think that when they decided the bridge was unsafe, they would have sent a team of students to the bridge for research. But no one was sent. People who regularly use the bridge to pass from one side of the interstate to the other, nearby merchants, children who use it to walk across on the weekends to play on campus and students who use it to walk to class were never given a chance to voice their opinions. Indeed, they aren't even represented, unless student government officers vote with their interests in mind -- an unlikely outcome, given that this group decided that what mattered was to try to shut down state-owned property. What gives representatives of Baylor the idea they have the power to shut down anything that poses a threat to the dear campus?

From a university with terrible community relations, it seems as if closing down this bridge would only worsen the relationship. The community will see it as an attempt to keep them out, as if they are not good enough to come on to campus and that Baylor believes they pose a 'safety concern.'

This poorly thought-out plan only creates more problems than it solves. Instead of wasting time working on this, efforts could already be underway to increase the lighting around campus, another initiative planned by student government.

If for some reason the Texas Department of Transportation agrees with Student Congress and their plea to close the bridge, will alternate routes be available for people who regularly use it? Or will they have to walk to the bridge on 12th Street?

Regardless of what bridge or path is closed, there will always be safety concerns. Bikes will continue to be stolen and cars will continue to be robbed. But closing someone's only access to campus for work or school is a ridiculous excuse for a safety initiative.