On Oct. 16, the entirety of campus received an email from Jon Meyer, director of Security, care of Communications, informing students about the accidents that have ridden campus over the past week. The email was sent in light of a recent hit and run in which a Lawrence student was hit by an intoxicated driver and hospitalized. The day before the hit and run, two other students not at fault were also hit in a crosswalk by a negligent driver. Earlier in the term, another student collided with a car while riding their bike across College Avenue. Unfortunately, the emails from campus officials directed the blame away from drivers and urged students to become more defensive pedestrians. In order to prevent future accidents, Lawrence and the City of Appleton must work collaboratively to educate drivers about pedestrian safety on the Lawrence campus.
Meyer’s email did not just tell pedestrians to be more defensive—it took the blame away from drivers altogether. He urged students to stop texting, implying that the four students who were hit the preceding week were at fault for being on their phones. In reality, none of the students were on their phones. Meyer and Campus Security at Lawrence must have received some backlash for this email, however, because another email was sent the next day from the Vice President of Student Life Christopher Card. The second email clarified that the students were not at fault. Card informed the student body that Lawrence officials have been in communication with the City of Appleton and the Appleton Police Department over the past week to increase safety measures.
Earlier this term, cameras were installed at the crosswalks to hold drivers accountable for any incidents involving Lawrence students. No further measures to improve security have been shared with the student body at this time, which is concerning considering the four accidents that have already occurred this term. With so many accidents taking place, it is vital that Campus Security and the Lawrence administration take these incidents seriously and implement changes to keep Lawrentians safe.
It would be beneficial to implement better lighting at the crosswalks; as is, the flashing yellow lights could be read as a warning to notify drivers of a crosswalk rather than to stop for students trying to cross. Lights were installed in 2014 at the crosswalk on East Wisconsin Avenue which indicate: “ON FLASHING RED – All Vehicles Must Stop at Line – Proceed with Caution if Clear.” Installing red lights like these at the College Avenue crosswalks would send a clearer message to drivers to stop in order for students to cross safely.
Bottom line, the lives of those in the Lawrence community must be protected and taken seriously. It is the duty of Campus Security and the Lawrence administration to protect the campus body from reckless drivers.