Elon University is a small campus community connected in a variety of ways. But one of those connections has been disrupted by a closed gate separating the Danieley Neighborhood from the Colonnades Neighborhood parking lot.
The gate can only be opened by certain university vehicles. This barrier is an inconvenience to faculty, staff, students and visitors and it makes traveling around campus unnecessarily complicated.
According to Sgt. Cory Ray with Elon’s Campus Safety and Police, the gate was put in place to keep traffic light for the BioBus, Physical Plant trucks and emergency vehicles. The gate was only temporarily propped open to allow construction vehicles to enter and exit, Ray said.
The purpose of the gate was to create an easy route for Elon and emergency vehicles free of student traffic and visitors’ cars. But the closed gate disconnects Danieley from the rest of campus and actually results in more traffic and safety hazards elsewhere.
Drivers going to or from Danieley must go onto East Haggard Avenue and through campus to get to classrooms, other residence halls and downtown.
East Haggard Avenue runs directly through the center of the campus. It’s lined with crosswalks and has several stoplights and intersections. During weekdays, East Haggard is one big traffic jam, with a steady flow of foot traffic, bicycles and vehicles.
The traffic worsens when Elon Elementary School students are released and parents line up to pick up their kids. The road can become crowded and chaotic, leading to safety hazards.
Braedyn “Brae” Robson, a sophomore living in Moffitt Hall in the Colonnades Neighborhood, said the gate being closed could be considered dangerous for students. Robson, who has a car on campus, will often opt to drive to classes, especially in bad weather conditions. He said he believes the gate being closed results in “a waste of time and gas for students” and makes it more difficult to see friends and access dining options.
But students living in Danieley are arguably most affected by the gate being closed. Sophomore Danieley resident Peter Kerr said, “Danieley felt closer to and more a part of campus” with the gate open. Kerr said an open gate is harmless and the stop signs on either side of the gate help to prevent accidents.
Despite Elon’s small size, Danieley seems disconnected from downtown and the center of campus, unlike other dorms. An open gate encourages students in Danieley to leave their neighborhood more often and allows other students to venture over to Danieley for food and visits.
Deborah Bozeman has been driving the BioBus for a year, following a consistent route around campus to transport students to and from classes. She knows the gate is closed to avoid student interference but claimed to have had no trouble or interference from other drivers while the gate was temporarily opened earlier this year.
Bozeman acknowledges and respects that whether the gate is up or down is the university’s decision. She speculates that there may have been difficulties for BioBus drivers in previous years that prompted the university to install the gate in the first place.
There have been rumors around campus that the gate was closed due to the BioBus drivers’ preferences, but according to Bozeman, she and her colleagues have their own problems with the gate and said they would be happy to have it open.
Bozeman said visitors unfamiliar with the campus are often confused by the gate and seemingly expect it to open for them, which results in difficulty for the BioBus to get through. In addition, the sensors that trigger the gate occasionally fail to work. A ride on the BioBus illustrates the problem. As we approached the gate, the bus began to slow down until it came to a complete stop. Bozeman, still fully engrossed in our conversation, let out a sigh as we waited for a couple of seconds before the sensor installed in the front of the bus triggered the gate to open. As the gate slowly rose, Bozeman commented on the inconvenience of bringing the bus to a complete stop to wait for the gate every time she passes through.
Bozeman recalls students’ complaints about accessing Danieley Commons for food. “It’s unnecessary for kids to drive all the way around when they could just come right in and right back out,” Bozeman said.
The gate is inefficient, and when it was temporarily opened, there was no disruption in the travel of BioBus and emergency vehicles.
The open gate was a convenience, not a problem, and that convenience should be returned.