Safety walk shows areas of campus needing work

By Kayla Pickrell | @KernelPickrell

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Students, staff and UK officials participated in a safety walk on Monday night to evaluate safe routes and the safety of students while they are walking on campus.

About 30 representatives from campus organizations walked from the North Campus dorms to Commonwealth Stadium, searching for unsafe walking paths or unlit areas.

“It was nice to see students interacting with staff and administrators from many departments and offices,” said Student Government Vice President Mary Katherine Kington.

Among the biggest concerns were bushes along sidewalks.

The representatives found bushes to be too large or easy to hide in outside the Student Center and Chemistry-Physics Building.

“The places that we decided needed the most attention were the walkway between Rose Street and the library (next to K Lair), and the walkway from the parking lot across from the library on Hilltop Avenue (commonly referred to as the fraternity lot) toward the South Campus living areas,” said JR Leach, director of community outreach for Student Government. “There’s a large focus on not only re-evaluating, but redoing the entire path all together.”

He said actual resurfacing of Cats Path areas “would likely have to be delayed to the spring due to the necessary conditions for the sustainability of the paws.”

Leach said the weather would have to be warmer before making changes.

Another area that needs improvement is the walkway between Pence Hall and the Margaret I. King Library.

The walkway is a main connector for those living on South Campus trying to get to White Hall Classroom Building.

The walkway used to have overgrown trees and bushes, but they have all been pushed back so students can see exactly what they are walking into, Kington said.

Aside from the few changes to be made in resurfacing, lighting and tree overgrowth, Leach said there are no major problems.

Safety walks the past two years have been pushed because of the transition of Student Government representatives and have taken place in the spring a few weeks before the new representatives took office.

This left plans pushed to the side, said Woody Hoagland, head of campus safety for Student Government.

With the safety walk in the fall, Hoagland said changes would be made within two months.

“There were many high-traffic areas that need more lighting in order for our students to feel comfortable traveling after dark,” Hoagland said.

Along with the fresh ideas from Monday night’s walk, Hoagland brought in the ideas from last year’s walk that focused on new cat paws showing where most students walk.

“One goal of tonight was determining if the existing Cats Path is heavily trafficked at night,” Kington said. “I think by the number of students we saw walking about that this is true.

“We want to work with the university to ensure the Cats Path is updated and renovated as needed and are in the process of having those conversations and ensuring these changes happen in a timely fashion.”

Kington said information gathered during the walk will be brought to the university’s attention soon.

“The response was great and I genuinely think all were invested in the task at hand,” Leach said. “Campus safety is something on which these individuals pride themselves.”