University services and policies plagued by inefficiencies

The University of Alabama administration likely spends a great deal of their time cultivating the public image of our school, as that image directly influences high school students who are deciding where to continue their education after graduating. From the flyers and brochures with pictures of laughing students lounging on the quad to the super-enthusiastic campus tour guides that every university seems to have, schools always seem to highlight the services and policies they have that make attaining a higher education easier and more fulfilling. But too often, it seems like they’re all but ignored after you’re an enrolled student.

These services were pounded into our heads at orientation. The Crimson Ride, 348-RIDE and the Recreation Center are all advertised as great resources, and usually they are. In reality, though, we know that many of these promised benefits aren’t always what they were cracked up to be. The recreation center looks great in all the photos in recruitment pamphlets, but many students complain about overcrowding and slow response times to damaged equipment. In a Crimson White article published last week, students report numerous issues with the 348-RIDE service, including long wait times, rude and dismissive drivers, and a general lack of viability that causes many students to risk walking home or even driving drunk. The Crimson Ride has improved drastically since I’ve been a student at Alabama, but I still hear complaints about backed up buses, inefficient routes and long wait times. Combined with the city of Tuscaloosa’s slow adoption of Uber and unreliable city taxis, the failure of school administration to address students’ transportation woes has become quite dangerous. It's likely that incidences of drunk driving and walking home alone would drastically decrease if a reliable ride infrastructure existed.

There are failures in enforcement of university policies as well, and these failures are arguably more egregious. The well-publicized smoking ban on campus went into effect in January of last year, but it’s pretty obvious to anyone walking around campus for a little while that not much has changed. Smokers continue to smoke near dorm entrances, outside class buildings and pretty much everywhere they were before. Smoking is a difficult thing to police, but more effort has to be made, as everyone has a right to breathe healthy air while on campus. The campus police do the courageous and necessary job of protecting students, but when they (with Tuscaloosa P.D.) allegedly overreached earlier this year and likely violated students’ civil rights, the University should have taken action – and not much has happened since the story fell out of the news.

Many of these issues can be attributed to regular growing pains for a university that has added around fourteen thousand students in the past ten years. We should strive to be the school that we are in the recruitment brochures. Focusing a little more on improving these issues could separate The University of Alabama from similar universities, and make the University an even more desirable place to go to school.

Kyle Simpson is a junior majoring in biology. His column runs weekly. 

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