The Division of Student Life in the Dean of Students Office will offer a new shuttle service to various locations on and off campus this fall in an effort to create a more accessible campus and enhance the student experience.
The service will launch Monday, Oct. 2, and will run from 8 a.m. to noon on weekdays. The shuttle will make several stops around campus, including the Student Health Center and the Counseling Center, as well as off-campus stops like CVS, Drug Mart, and neighboring cities.
Students will be able to download an app to their smartphone, granting them the ability to track the shuttle with GPS. The app will also allow administrators to observe the data produced by it, such as popular stops and ride times, which they will then use to improve and hopefully expand the shuttle service during the spring semester.
The primary purpose of the new shuttle service is to promote student health and wellness and to ease transportation to and from resources like Student Health Services.
“The administrative staff in Student Life have been aware of student concerns about access to the Counseling Center and CVS, as well as challenges getting around campus for people with a range of mobility capacities,” Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo wrote in an email to the Review.
Director of the Multicultural Resource Center and Assistant Dean of Students Toni Myers agrees that there has been an ongoing need for more convenient ways to navigate Oberlin.
“It really surfaced from listening, a deep and active listening to the student concerns around greater accessibility of resources including the Student Health Center, Counseling Center, and local businesses such as CVS and Drug Mart, which are places where students get their medication and other types of health-related products,” Myers said. “We wanted to create an opportunity for students to easily access those resources.”
For some students, the lack of convenient transportation to some of these crucial locations has been a serious problem and source of stress at Oberlin. College junior Francesca Ott said that the new service could help more students meet their needs.
“It’ll be helpful for students that either need to go to CVS or Student Health but don’t end up going because it’s too difficult to have that accessibility,” she said.
College junior Octavia Burgel has had previous difficulties trying to reach the Student Health Center and thinks the new program could prevent similar issues in the future.
“There was one afternoon in particular where I was really sick and it was pouring, and I had to go to Student Health, and I was not properly prepared for the weather, so I just got more sick by going to Student Health in the rain,” she said, adding that the new shuttle service “just sounds like a pretty good idea.”
In previous years, Safety and Security has been called to transport sick or injured students. But this took a toll on officers and resources and made it difficult for them to effectively carry out other parts of their job, according to Myers.
“Following last semester’s influx of need in terms of one-to-one transportation for students, we understand that Safety and Security just didn’t have the capacity to meet the greater need of our student body’s transportation concerns,” Myers said. “This was an opportunity for us to be directly responsive and somewhat preemptive in planning a system that would allow student to have greater access to campus.”
Though Safety and Security will continue to be available to students for rides in emergencies, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards Thom Julian hopes that when students use the shuttle service rather than Safety and Security, it might lead to an all-around more efficient system of transportation.
“The frequency of those rides is going to decrease, which means that [the officers’] response time is going to increase,” Julian said.
Myers added that the shuttle system will also provide on-campus employment opportunities for students.
Additionally, “an undercurrent of this plan is also increasing opportunities for students to gain employment on campus,” said Myers.
Myers and Julian are both hopeful that the shuttle service will launch successfully this October and achieve the financial success necessary to expand next semester.
“We’ve had the hope that we can expand the shuttle service into the community so that students can access local area resources,” Myers said, referring to areas such as Lorain, Elyria, and Amherst, Crocker Park in Westlake, and downtown Cleveland.
Students interested in becoming shuttle drivers can email Myers at [email protected] or Julian at [email protected] Myers and Julian are also accepting feedback, especially regarding requested shuttle stops.