Riders on the storm
UB’s lack of communication annoys students on first day
Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 00:08
All institutions are symbiotic; the people who run the institution rely on those who use the institution and those who use the institution rely on those who run it. The relationship of the university administration to the student body can be understood through the terms of an interdependency of parts.
On Monday (the first day of school), many were surprised to learn of an additional protocol when riding the UB Stampede. The Department of Parking and Transportation has added a “Swipe ‘n’ Ride” feature called SmartTrack. Riders of the bus must display and swipe their UB ID cards to validate passenger access.
UB officials have said this installation will help improve transportation services and collect data to help them track patterns in student activity. They have also cited this as a safety measure – ensuring all who ride the bus are either students, faculty or staff.
While much of the reasoning behind this move makes sense, the first press release announcing this change came out on Aug. 27 – a day after implementation.
The lack of communication and transparency on the part of the administration has rendered the student body bewildered and confused. Many reports surfaced on Monday that lines to get on the bus increased enormously and that there was vastly more waiting time to get on the bus and for the bus to leave – causing some to even be late for class.
As the semester progresses and students get used to this transition, these delays are likely to lessen. But the fact that no one was prepared for this on day one caused immediate pangs of anxiety and frustration for students.
Maria Wallace, director of parking and transportation services, has indicated that this system is being introduced during the period of Aug. 26 to Sept. 29 and that riders who don’t have their cards will be told by the operator of the bus that this new policy has been initiated.
Why was there not a generic email sent out to students a week before school started? Why was there not any advanced notice?
Even though students have seen signs on the buses saying they must have their IDs present when using UB transportation, it has very rarely been enforced in previous semesters.
It would seem that in order to increase efficiency of a program, preparing those to use it would be a logical course of action. Consider the number of freshmen who had to endure the excruciatingly long lines at the bus to get from their dorms to class. That is not a good precedent to set for new students the university would hope to retain.
There needs to be a stronger line of communication regarding administrative decisions that cause students to make certain adjustments to their daily life on campus. It is not demanding to ask students to carry their IDs; in fact, it doesn’t make much sense not to – but some don’t. And if a policy like this is implemented, then all students should be aware of it, especially if it may depend upon them making a change in what they need to have on their person during the day.
For a school with around 19,000 undergraduates, with many being commuters, clarity and cognizance are key to effective management.
Any change to the conditions of commuting and transportation need to be available to the students and the reasoning and purpose behind it should be laid out. There should also be an ongoing exchange of how the alteration is working and whether it is effective toward its purpose.
Student participation in these types of decisions should not be seen as a privilege, but an important ingredient of institutional functionality.