Hello, everyone! Welcome back to school; I hope the first two weeks have been good so far. Today, I want to address an issue with the Red Hawk Shuttle service we have on campus, as well as with the Rensselaer Union.
Imagine this: It’s Saturday evening. You and your friends are finishing up a trip to downtown Troy, checking out a restaurant or making a shopping run. Maybe you stopped in at Blitman Residence Commons for dinner. Now you want to head back up to the main campus to hang out in the Union, head back to your residence halls, or what have you.
Unfortunately, you won’t be getting back up that easily. The Red Hawk Shuttle stopped running at 5 pm. Yes, 5 pm. On the weekends, that is. Weekdays, when everyone has class and homework and class the next morning, the shuttle runs until 11 pm. This is especially irritating in the case of eating dinner at Blitman, since the dining hall there doesn’t start serving dinner until 5 pm. This also imposes a sort of curfew on the residents of Blitman if they don’t want to walk all the way back to the hall later.
Having to walk up the Approach isn’t the end of world, of course. But it’s tiring and, in the winter, icy, and slippery. If some of the other staircases on campus are blocked off because of the snow and ice—like the one up from the ’86 Field near Sage Labs—then why should we be forced to walk up the hundreds of stairs of the Approach and its subsequent staircases?
This has happened to me several times in my years at RPI, and each time I’ve wondered: What could the reason possibly be for the shuttles not running later when students need them most?
And while I’m at it, why is the Union open 24 hours a day during the week, but closes at 1 am on weekends? Father’s Marketplace and the Rathskeller both close earlier on weekends, too, despite the fact that that’s when students are more likely to be there late, needing sustenance for their studying or hanging out. I’ve lost track of the number of club meetings or gatherings with friends that have been broken up by the Union closing.
I certainly understand why the Union is open all day and all night during the week—students meet there to work on projects, homework, have group meetings, etc.—but by this same logic and in the case of just wanting to be with friends a little bit longer, wouldn’t it make sense to keep the building open later on the weekends as well?
In summary, while the Red Hawk Shuttle system and the Union provide valuable services to the RPI community, there is much room for improvement. Specifically, a great place to start would be to add later hours for both. Being able to catch a shuttle later than 5 pm on weekends would be awesome, and being able to stay in the Union later on weekends would be great as well.