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Wooster must forge new paths to safety

There is a well-known anecdote about a school laying out their campus paths. When Ohio State was laying out walkways on their campus, they simply planted grass in the open spaces and let students walk where they needed to go. Obviously, this tactic resulted in paths being worn where students actually walked. On these student-made paths, the University put down permanent and more easily managed paths. On our campus, there is one major dirt path still in use every day, so we should follow in OSU’s footsteps and build a concrete path over it. Doing so would make our campus safer, cleaner and easier to navigate. It would also help to ensure easy access to one of the most important buildings on campus year-round. Where, you may ask, would the College put this fancy new concrete path?

As the situation currently stands, there is a very clear place to build a permanent path for students to use. Everyday you will see students using a makeshift path that goes from the southwest corner of the tennis courts over the Ebert Art Center parking lot and to the north entrance to Gault Library. This path is treacherous in the best of times due to an abundance of exposed roots and uneven ground, but during the wet weather that we often have in Ohio, it becomes nearly impassable. This is especially true in the winter, and is clearly demonstrated by the wild swings we have experienced this year. Packed snow turns to ice and makes the ground an ice rink. Then, when the weather turns warm enough, the snow melts into large puddles, or rain will create them. Eventually the cold weather that most of us despise returns, and then the ice is worse than ever. This makes a path that many of us use into a hazard. 

The extreme cold we have experienced this winter is another reason for this path’s construction. Spending too much time outside in extreme cold can cause grievous injury, and the lack of a path can force students to take a longer route. Even during the coldest parts of the polar vortex a few weeks ago, I needed to trek to the library for some of my I.S. materials and to do some printing for class. Despite the icy conditions on the student blazed trail, I took the shorter path so I would not have to spend so much time in the cold. Long story short, I slipped, just like scores of other students have.

This dirt path that is almost always muddy also has the adverse effect of causing students to track mud into buildings on campus, which increases the work load of our custodial staff unnecessarily. Mud tracked through our library also does not present a favorable image of the College to prospective students and their parents as they walk through our library on tours. Neither does the image of students trekking across a well-worn unpaved path. By building a concrete path on the current dirt path, the College can remedy these issues. Our custodians would have to put a little less effort into removing mud from carpets in the library and other campus buildings, and the image of the College would be maintained in the eyes of prospective students and their parents.

I understand that there are financial concerns connected with building a new path, but the reasons I outlined above show a clear need for a path to better connect our campus.

Adam Gilmore, a Contributing Writer for the Voice, can be reached for comment at AGilmore19@wooster.edu.

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