The rumors seen everywhere on Drexel social media (including my own personal Facebook rants) in the past few weeks have proven true. The beloved Blue and Gold route is seeing its path altered to exclude the current Walnut Street portion and is shortening its hours from offering service at midnight to sending the last bus from library at 8 p.m. Now, while I’m as upset as the next person that I don’t have a bus to transport my eggs and iced tea from Fresh Grocer anymore, the change in the hours of operation is much more concerning.
Many students use the shuttle as a way to travel quickly and safely from campus to their homes in the Powelton Village and Mantua neighborhoods. Drexel has been attempting to increase campus engagement and school spirit partly by encouraging students to live on campus and stay on it as much as possible. The reality of the situation is that most students cannot afford to spend around $3,500 per term on dorm living, nor just under $1,000 a month for alternatives provided by American Campus Communities, as reflected by over 70 percent of students living off-campus. By restricting the shuttle schedule’s hours, Drexel is effectively limiting the amount of time that students will spend on campus and reinforcing the common campus opinion that the University is being greedy and “shafting” its off-campus students who can’t afford other forms of transportation.
In addition to limiting students who actually have options, Drexel is depriving students that have part-time jobs or participate in extracurricular activities that prevent them from making it home before late in the evening. This doesn’t even include students that need to work late at the library for a group project or to use the campus’ wifi and other resources.
While getting an escort home is still a safe transport option, it cannot be denied that a majority of students will not choose to wait fifteen minutes for an escort to show up and awkwardly walk them home when they’re already exhausted from a day’s work. This option is also not feasible during the harsh winter months and could lead to Drexel having to spend more money for walking escorts due to a higher demand, which contradicts their original goal of saving money.
Given the high number of Drexel alerts sent out over the past two months for muggings and assaults in the Powelton Village area, most of which are concentrated in the evening hours, this change could not be more of a misstep. In the midst of recommending students to be wary of traveling home alone at night, Drexel is unwisely removing one of the few University-sponsored ways of doing this to save money for its bottom line. This move will quickly become costly not only for its safety rating but its students’ sense of security.
Considering the bloated price we pay for tuition, free group transport home at night to densely-populated student areas is what we need, not new offers to live in costly on-campus housing. Drexel should reduce the frequency of shuttle runs to being on the hour or half-hour to reduce spending while continuing to offer late-night travel. If you agree that we have a right to safety, send an email expressing your concerns to the facilities Vice President at [email protected] and President Fry at [email protected].