Life on an urban campus has its perks. The Marquette community benefits from its downtown Milwaukee location as it keeps students connected to their city and draws people from all over the country. It is hard to imagine campus without the sounds of the highway and the sometimes the sounds of ambulance sirens.
With that in mind, there are some flaws to a city campus, where all kinds of people live and work. Safety can be a significant issue and though the Department of Public Safety is an active force on campus, it cannot prevent all incidents caused by third parties. With Wisconsin Avenue running directly through the middle of campus, vehicular traffic and foot traffic sometimes literally collide.
Last Tuesday near campus, an international graduate student was struck in a hit-and-run accident at the intersection of 17th and Wells St. She sustained serious injuries and though the car’s image was captured on surveillance footage, the driver responsible has not been found yet.
In traffic accidents involving pedestrians, the driver is usually found at fault as the pedestrian has the right of way. Nonetheless, even with the presence of traffic lights at major intersections, it can be difficult to assign responsibility for who made the mistake and went when they should not have.
The student injured Jan. 20 is likely not to blame for her injuries but the incident indicates there is a risk to walking across major streets in a high traffic area. While we cannot control who and how everyone drives through campus, there may be ways to minimize the risk of an accident taking place.
Looking forward, it is important for those walking on Marquette’s campus to be mindful of drivers. Anyone can make a mistake behind the wheel, but if certain precautions are taken, it is less likely that it would be an injurious one.
Rather than hiring DPS officers to act as crossing guards like some of us had in grade school, people should be aware of their circumstances and make rational decisions about when to cross or not. It is not simply about looking both ways before crossing or holding someone’s hand as you go but rather being aware of drivers’, as well as other pedestrians’, behaviors.
A car barreling down Wisconsin Avenue or a yellow light are not indications to try and cross the street quickly. Drivers can be reckless and not see or even care if you get in the way. So perhaps waiting at a light may make you a few seconds later to class, but it is ultimately a form of taking responsibility for your own safety.
DPS cannot always be where students are and have their own car traffic to worry about, so it falls on campus dwellers to take care to limit the risks that our environment tends to throw at us. We must be able to make our own decisions when it comes to the avoidance of a traffic accident.
This is by far not a concrete solution to a greater problem. Traffic accidents will probably continue as long as fallible human beings continue to drive. It is, however, a start to trying to mitigate the happenstance of someone being hit by a car on campus.
A little annoyance in looking both ways, avoiding impulsive decisions and following the crosswalk signals is much easier to recover from than a serious car accident.