The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
Instagram

Debating the West Bridge

There is a simmering debate brewing at SMU, and this time it’s not conservatives fighting liberals. This time, student organizations are fighting increasing congestion that has appeared in front of their tables on the West Bridge of Hughes-Trigg Student Center. The question on everyone’s minds: How does the university allow student organizations maximum exposure to the campus population while maintaining the safety and security that we have all come to expect?

If you’ve slept through the past month on campus, the staff of Hughes-Trigg has been experimenting with new ways to decrease congestion that they say is causing excessive congestion through the West Bridge area. The congestion is a result of the unique combination of students, staff and maintenance vehicles operating in this central part of campus.

To his credit, Tim Moore – who is the director of the Hughes-Trigg Student Center – has considered a variety of options to solve this problem. Under his leadership, the concept of moving tables to the plaza was explored in late October. As a member of the Young Conservatives of Texas, I have been intimately involved with this process. YCT is one of several organizations that were required to move from the West Bridge to the plaza area as part of an experiment. The plaza area is the large rectangular area students pass through when traveling between the Main Quad and Hughes-Trigg. This area experiences moderate traffic, but the traffic is light compared to the transit that occurs at the West Bridge. Mr. Moore is also considering a trial where the tables would be moved closer to Dyer Street. Experimentation is a good idea. He says that he has also had conversations with Arlene Manthey and the Student Center Governing Board about this issue. All of this discussion will hopefully lead to a positive result that is best for everyone.

As someone who is affected by this decision, I would like to offer suggestions that I think can help everyone alleviate concerns. First, I would like to suggest that maintenance vehicles be banned from the area surrounding the West Bridge. This would lead to the greatest improvement in safety. The presence of maintenance vehicles in the congested area has been used as the convenient reason to move student organizations from their desired locations. The area in question is a walkway, not a road. The student center has four sides, as does nearby Clements Hall. Surely the other sides of those buildings would be suitable for those vehicles. In addition, I know all the Gator vehicles and golf carts can handle the extra strain of driving around Clements Hall when driving to the Main Quad or around Hughes-Trigg on their way to buildings on the eastern side of campus. There is no need to endanger student health to save workers from driving a few extra feet.

My second recommendation is directed at student organizations. A big concern for the student center staff has been tables that “get moved into main walkways.” It really shouldn’t be that difficult. As students, we should be able to handle keeping our tables out of harm’s way. You can still attract people to your table by being vocal without getting in the way of other students.

My final recommendation for the West Bridge is not intended to solve congestion. It is intended to help improve utilization of tables in front of the student center. Students, please use a table if you sign up for one. There is nothing more frustrating than watching an empty West Bridge all day knowing your organization could not sign up because all tables were reserved. Administrators, please improve enforcement of this policy. Two options are immediately apparent. A small deposit could be required when a reservation is made. It would be refunded when the table is used. My preferred option would be to simply ban offending organizations from reserving tables for a period of time. If you reserve a table and don’t use it, you should have to wait a month or two to reserve a table again. How could this be policed? If someone from the organization does not come to the Mane Desk and leave his or her student ID for the day, the group has not properly demonstrated use of the table. Also, perhaps consideration should be given to splitting the reservations into half-day time blocks. Tables could be reserved from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Organizations should still be given the option to reserve the full day, but perhaps organizations that only use tables for an hour or two would be encouraged to use only half a day.

Whatever happens, organizations’ tables should remain in the West Bridge area.

Reed Hanson is a sophomore electrical engineering major. He may be contacted at [email protected].

More to Discover