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  • Ian Livingston Brooking

Student safety a top priority for university officials

As more students begin to come onto campus and sign leases at places like Coastal Club and Monarch 544, the topic of safety is one that has been discussed more and more by students.

Back in August of 2017, a student was hit on 544, sparking the conversation about student safety. And while students are wanting to see something done about the safety of Highway 544, Coastal Carolina President David DeCenzo said that there is a lot of planning that goes into working on a federal highway.

“Unfortunately, we have had several incidents where students have been hit on Highway 544,” said DeCenzo. “One of the things that we have done is installed more lights at the intersections and have set the timers to give pedestrians adequate time to cross the street and get to where they need to be.”

DeCenzo says that the administration has been working with the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SC DOT) to keep students safe. Another precaution the administration has taken is making all the lights go red and the “No Turn on Red”, which allows students to cross Highway 544 safely.

“You have to realize that Highway 544 is a state road,” said DeCenzo. “We have been working with several state officials to make it safer but to make changes on 544, which is a major evacuation route, they will not happen overnight. We are getting close to being able to announce some major changes that will be coming on the 544 route.”

The idea of a walking bridge has been tossed for years but on March 15, 2018, a tragic accident at Florida International University in Sweetwater, Fla. occurred when a pedestrian bridge collapsed, crushing several cars below and killing six people.

DeCenzo gave his thoughts on the idea of a walking bridge making its way to Coastal Carolina.

“I don’t have a concern if the bridge is built properly,” said DeCenzo. “From what I understand, what happened at FIU, it was a unique kind of build. They built the bridge off-campus and then installed it onto campus once it was complete. My biggest issue is that we have been told over and over again by many of our students that they will never use a walking bridge. That has kind of hurt us in our efforts to build a bridge that meets all the specifications - you are talking mega bucks for something like that. And to try to get people to help us and then to have people on the news say that they will never use it, hasn’t helped.”

DeCenzo says that if a walking bridge was to be built, it would be catered more to benefit students who live at University Place.

Logan Jarrell, a junior marine science major, says despite the incidents that have happened along the Highway 544 corridor, he feels safe on that part of campus.

“With the increase of policing that has happened all around campus as well that section of campus, I do feel a lot safer,” said Jarrell. “I know there is a lot more attention given to it and the university does continuously work to make sure that students are safe.”

DeCenzo says that the amount of police officers on this campus are just one of the many number of things that make this campus safe.

“There are security cameras placed in every public space on this campus, and they are monitored constantly by our public safety staff,” said DeCenzo. “We also have tag readers which allow us to work with local law enforcement so that, in the event that a vehicle comes onto campus, we are able to become aware of that immediately. I also think that us having a fully-functioning police department on this campus adds to safety of our campus.”

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