Many residents of Dolan Hall and the townhouses are upset because Fairfield University will no longer be running the campus shuttle for students.
Conveniently, my laptop broke, so I decided to take the trek up to the Dolan Commons myself to see what the commute was really like. A pulled hamstring and sore calf muscle later, I reached Dolan Commons. When I reached the top of the hill, I really knew what frustrated students were talking about. I could not imagine the life of a business student having to walk an even further distance. Many students traveling to the Student Computing desk are also plagued by these changes. Carrying your broken computer all the way to Dolan Commons and back to your residence is a very frustrating experience.
It was not until I did further research that I realized this change was not made without deep consideration and dismay.
Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Jim Fitzpatrick, has had to answer to the angry and confused students and parents involved in this service cut.
“We made some extremely difficult financial decisions in spring and summer that we never wanted to make, and we are not happy having to do it,” he said. v
Fitzpatrick added that, “There were different times when the shuttle was more heavily used than other times. For example, starting out the semester it wouldn’t be used much at all … mostly at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., most times to the Barone Campus Center and Dolan School of Business.”
Fitzpatrick acknowledged that the winter months would be a challenging time in terms of on-campus transportation.
According to the University, this cut was necessary as campus shuttles are considered a secondary item in the budget. If not the shuttles, then cuts would have to be made in areas like the classroom. In addition to the campus shuttle removal, the coffee bar in Canisius has been removed and the operating hours of the Stag are one hour shorter. Eddie Muniz, FUSA’s Secretary of Student Life, agreed that the cut was necessary.
“The budget for programming events has gone up, and that was because students wanted more options for programs and events,” said Muniz. “Also, the fact that freshmen and sophomores don’t have cars on campus means that a town shuttle becomes more vital to students who have no way of getting off campus. The new J&R Town shuttle is an eco-friendly bus.”
One benefit of this cut could be the lessened environmental impact on the campus. The university has begun a pilot program that includes giving five Trek bicycles to the R.A. staff in Dolan Hall. However, the student response to a potential bicycle program has been unenthusiastic. Fitzpatrick said that another poll would be taken in the upcoming weeks to gauge student interest, which may be better timing than the spring 2009 poll. Future plans of the University include a complete renovation of Dolan Hall in 2010-2011.
The town shuttle is still in service and is adding stops to the Trumbull Mall, Black Rock Turnpike and movie theaters. These new locations were added by an Ad-Hoc Transportation Committee that FUSA created.
Although all of these changes are positive and much needed, the absence of a campus shuttle is a loss that will be detrimental to a large amount of students on campus. The best that can be done without the campus shuttle system would be to take advantage of Connect by Hertz and bicycles.
“The student response to Connect by Hertz Cars seems to be great so far,” said Muniz. “I know a lot of students signed up at Orientation and during the summer.”
All in all this cut is one that is going to negatively affect students. However, imagining cuts in the classroom or of other important facilities on campus, this change seems to be the best of the worst choices. But that does not change the need for some method of transportation available aside from bikes and walking in the blistery winter months. Until then, students will be getting a workout on their way to and from the townhouses and Dolan.