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Op-ed | Red lights, oversights

Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 01:12

 

On Nov. 8, which started out as a normal Thursday evening, we walked past Lewis Hall and stopped to chat with one of our closest friends as he headed home just a few blocks away. 

We joked about his formerly annoying habit of barreling — with sound effects — up and down the stairs every morning. We complained about our homework; he complained about his. As we continued on our way, none of us could ever have imagined that the only noise in the world we would want to hear the next morning would be that stomping on the stairs. 

We haven’t heard that shockingly loud sound since. Our friend was severely injured when he was struck by a car on Packard Avenue and Powderhouse Boulevard just after we saw him. 

We are writing in response to an article published in the Daily on Nov. 29 that details the response of the Tufts administration — a response that has lessened this tragic accident to a statistical incident, to a moment in time without recognizing the real human repercussions. 

The aforementioned article states that “the recent series of accidents at that particular intersection is most likely anecdotal,” information that is attributed to Somerville Director of Communications Tom Champion. The fact of the matter, however, is that this incident is far from anecdotal. 

While Tom Champion is not a Tufts official, the Tufts administration has assured students they are collaborating closely with Somerville to investigate the intersection. 

Champion’s attitude, exemplified through his nonchalant response and trivialization of the dangerous nature of this intersection, is consistent with the response we have witnessed from the Tufts administration. 

Over the past weeks, we have watched one of the most brilliant minds we know struggling to recover, debilitated by a single moment in time beyond his control.

As we waited one afternoon for any sliver of positive information — like many others over the past few weeks — the President of the university that we have come to love visited the hospital. 

This was the beginning of the university’s response — or, rather, lack thereof — marked by an indifferent characterization of a horrible and more importantly preventable hardship as an isolated incident. 

In fairness to the administration, it has hired a team to investigate the intersection in question and has erected several, if all entirely nominal, “improvements” in the guise of enhancing pedestrian safety. 

When considered practically, however, these measures do next to nothing toward achieving their stated aim. We, as students of this university, understand the complex nature of town-gown relations and recognize that installation of a stoplight cannot occur overnight. 

This does not excuse the lack of utter commitment to erecting a stoplight at an intersection demonstrated to be dangerous.  

As the friends of an indescribably loving person who must spend the indefinite future living with the pain and aftermath of this accident, we find the assertion that more evidence and information is necessary before this intersection is changed entirely absurd. 

Instead of making the installation of a stoplight a priority, the Tufts Director of Public and Environmental Safety, Kevin Maguire, “emphasized that it is important for pedestrians to take initiative if they want to avoid accidents,” according to the aforementioned Daily article.

 The Tufts administration, as demonstrated through impractical recommendations such as this one, has neglected its duty to the student body to provide a safe environment. 

We have felt incredibly supported by the Dean’s Office and by our professors, who have readily recognized the tragedy at hand, and we hope that the administration will follow suit. 

Our friend is not the first student to be injured in an automobile accident at this intersection, and it is unbelievably unfortunate that larger changes were not enacted years ago. If the intense suffering endured by many students has not been enough, what will be? In the spirit of not only remembering, but honoring the moments we have shared with our friend, we ask the administration to allow this so-called anecdotal evidence to become more.

We ask that it serve as an example that more should be done — to prioritize the safety of our campus above all else to ensure that something this horrible, this unreal and this unthinkable never happens to a Tufts student again. 

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Nick Richard is a sophomore majoring in psychology. He can be reached at Nicholas.Richard@tufts.edu. Erin Griffard is a junior who is majoring in community health and Latin American studies. She can be reached at Erin.Griffard@tufts.edu. Teighlor Bonner is a junior majoring in psychology. She can be reached at Teighlor.Bonner@tufts.edu. Anna Patten is a junior majoring in Russian and Eastern European studies. She can be reached at Anna.Patten@tufts.edu.

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