By Guillermina Rodriguez
In response to recent safety issues on campus, most notably the death of 21-year old Communication student Ivan Aguilar on Feb. 28, two traffic safety forums were held before and after this quarter’s Pizza with the Presidents event.
The forums led to questions about what the administration plans to do about the safety issues Cal Poly Pomona is currently facing.
The forums allowed students, faculty and staff to voice their concerns about which areas on campus need to be improved and how to increase safety.
Seven stations at the forums addressed different relevant safety issues. Vehicles, campus safety education, pathways and lighting, the campus master plan, bicycles, pedestrians and skateboards were all addressed.
“What we are trying to capture is, ‘What are the concerns of the campus community?'” said Walter Marquez, CPP associate vice president of facilities planning and management. “[The community’s feedback] is the best to tell us where their concerns are. This is our way of actually finding exactly where the hotspots or the concern spots on campus [are].”
The forums served as a platform to gather as much information from the campus community as possible. The information will be compiled together into a report that will tell administrators where to focus their efforts.
“Ever since [the accident] students became concerned and paranoid with their safety on campus, myself included,” said CPP Associated Students Inc. President Chris Osuala. “Many memorial services were done and fundraisers were held in Ivan’s honor, but even with that, those were just bandages on a bigger issue that we have on our campus, which is safety of our students, faculty and staff.”
According to Marquez, safety concerns have always been a campus issue.
“Safety is an ongoing issue, this isn’t anything new for this campus,” said Marquez. “There have been multiple safety improvements.”
At Pizza with the Presidents, CPP President Michael Ortiz addressed the closure of a section of Red Gum Lane, which was a quick solution to maximize the safety of pedestrians.
According to Ortiz, when the new College of Business Administration building opened, it changed pedestrian traffic. More students were parking in the parking structure and would cross wherever they wanted in order to reach the building.
“One of the first solutions that we sought was to eliminate some of the traffic on Red Gum [Lane] by closing off some of the access routes directed,” said Ortiz. “This provided something we could do rather quickly.”
Besides safety being a concern that the university needs to address, Ortiz also stressed the importance of personal safety as a responsibility for all students.
“One thing that we didn’t talk about yet, but will ultimately is that safety is an individual item,” said Ortiz
Other issues brought up were the elimination of student parking on South Campus Drive and Temple Avenue.
Ortiz again brought up that safety is a personal responsibility and the elimination of parking on South Campus Drive was due to students crossing wherever they parked.
“It was a safety issue to begin with, and when [the city] repaved [South Campus Drive], [the city] decided to put in the bike lanes and that eliminated parking on both sides of the street,” said Ortiz.
Regarding Temple Avenue, Ortiz said he went to the Pomona Board of Supervisors to ask for more lighting and sheriff patrols, which caused the city to do an investigation.
The results of the investigation found numerous incidents on Temple Avenue. This led to the street being red curbed.
Concerns about on-campus car break-ins and theft were also brought up at the event.
“A lot of these are common sense issues,” said CPP’s acting Chief of Police Bruce Wilson. “Lock your car and keep your valuables out of sight. People look through windows, they see something they want, and it takes them a nanosecond to break in and steal it.”
Wilson said campus police patrols and tries to be diligent, but it is also the responsibility of students to protect their valuables.
The information gathered at the traffic safety forums will establish priorities for the university. Even though the university will see how to improve those safety concerns, administrators stress that everyone needs to play their part in order to create a safe campus.
“We’re constantly looking at ways to educate as well as improve safety measures, but unless people adhere to them, they won’t do any good,” said Ortiz.
Jenilee Umali/The Poly Post
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