University protects ‘Royal Days’ visitors

Students still find difficulty crossing Mulberry Street unaddressed

Published: February 18, 2016

Aquinas Photo / mATTHEW DEFRENZA FOR THE University’s Royal Days event, where prospective students visit campus, a University police officer directed traffic on Mulberry Street, where two students were struck and injured while crossing on two  seperate occasions this academic year.

AQUINAS PHOTO / MATTHEW DEFRENZA / FOR THE University’s Royal Days event, where prospective students visit campus, a University police officer directed traffic on Mulberry Street, where two students were struck and injured while crossing on two
seperate occasions this academic year.

Commentary by
MATTHEW DEFRENZA

It is despicable to me, especially in regards to recent events that resulted in two students’ hospitalization, that The University felt the need to station a University police officer on the corner of Mulberry Street and Monroe Avenue just in time for the arrival of prospective students on its Royal Days event.

While walking up Mulberry Street on the morning of Feb. 8, a University police officer, donning a neon-green translucent jacket, which I propose one of which should be distributed to each student at orientation, was in the middle of the crosswalk at Monroe-Mulberry, directing traffic. I was relieved to see that the University finally finished sitting on its hands, and believed that the officer directing traffic was a genuine solution to the problems of traversing Mulberry Street. But, then I noticed bright purple balloons attached to the gym’s doors, “admissions” shuttles lined up by the library, and signs directing prospective students and their families around campus.

On my return to my apartment in the early afternoon, gone were the “admission” shuttles, the cheery faces of possible students holding Scranton folders, and so too was the officer directing traffic. Future tuitions had left the campus, and the show was over.

The term “baiting” is commonly applied to the act of putting “bait” a hook while fishing. Its root, “bait” derives from the Old Norse word “beita,” or “to hunt or chase.” Therefore, from its inception, baiting has the connotation of pursuing something or someone with the intention of taking it.

Forgive me for this exercise in pretention, but I feel that it is fully necessary to explain the intent of my language and the maleficent, derived from the Latin root “male,” or “ill,” nature of The University’s employment of baiting visitors on Feb. 8.

The University should care about its students; it should be here to support and nurture students. Students pay an unbelievable “down payment” to attend The University. I remember my first visit to The University; the safety of the campus was stressed time and time again. Services like The University Police, and Public Safety, the blue masses around campus that huddle together and serve the purpose of gargoyles, were touted highly, and The University revealed itself to be a one-trick pony after its most recent showing.

Now, plenty of students cross Mulberry Street twice a day, if not more, without any real peril, meaning that the two students that were struck last semester must have been freakish accidents and therefore, isolated incidents. That’s how one could interpret The University’s view, considering that they have been invalids in regards to addressing the problem. But the fact of the matter is, two students did get hit, in the crosswalk. Anything left to human device is subject to human error; that is not an opinion but an accepted fact. Therefore, each person crossing Mulberry Street has triple the risk of an accident because not only are the persons driving in either lane subject to human error, but also so is the person crossing. Because there is no mechanism free of human error in the equation, accidents happen.

To cross a street that does not have stop signs or a traffic light requires both the person crossing, and the persons driving in either lane to understand one another’s intentions. In a small town’s main street where the speed limit is fifteen or twenty miles-per-hour, sure, that system works. A simple traffic light on the intersection of Hitchcock Court and Mulberry Street would be a blessing, thwarting any possibility for human error, but I’ll hold my breath, for if potholes in a street cannot be handled by the city, I doubt erecting a traffic light is possible.

A police officer directing traffic, even if only during peak hours of student transit, would instantly make the forge safer, but then that would be one less officer driving around the miscellaneous parking lots and making The University money.

Companies such as ULINE sell small speed strips that could be strategically placed between The DeNaples Center and Montrone Pilarz Housing, but I suppose that The University would rather save money and employ its students as speed bumps.

Now, The University could employ the under-paid work-study students to start carving away at an underground tunnel utilizing DeNaples’ spoons, a true homage to the exploited child and immigrant labor of the former Scranton coal mines, but maybe that’s a bit theatrical and slightly -fetched.
A sky-way, like the one that Loyola University of Maryland has connecting its dorms to its campus would be great, but Loyola’s walkway transcends a four lane highway, and a two way street hardly seems worthy.

The University could just purchase that stretch of Mulberry Street, as it did the segment of Linden Street that runs central through campus, but it is too busy buying up segments of The Historic Hills.

Maybe The University watched the movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” and figured that “if you could dodge traffic, you can dodge a ball,” thereby training students for its run at the annual Las Vegas International Dodgeball Open on ESPN 8: The Ocho.

I hope and pray that my jabs do not subtract from the sentiment of my words; I feel that I am not alone in saying that something must be done, that two students being hospitalized after being struck crossing the same street in one semester is a problem. Whether the blame falls on the city of Scranton, the friendly Scranton motorist, the University Police or The University, two injured students should be a University problem of more priority than a few prospective checks.

But, until then, I feel secure in knowing that, although a student is in near perpetual danger crossing Mulberry Street, at least The University is doing all that it can to secure its future tuitions and to protect itself from any financial dangers.

Their insolence shall be remembered fondly when I receive the first letter post-graduation asking to be a supportive alumnus.

Contact the writer: matthew.defrenza@scranton.edu

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