EDITORIAL: The university needs to take initiative to solve transportation for students

The lack of transportation access between campus and community negatively affects students.

It’s 90 degrees outside. The air is thick and humid. There’s no breeze, and the asphalt radiates heat. You’re walking down Sixth Street. Cars are racing past, reflecting the hot sun in your face and making it hard to see.

You’re walking to Walmart for groceries, cutting through McCrory Gardens for a little shade. The dirt is dry and clouds of dust follow your steps.

You walk home with several bags on each arm. The plastic handles are barely intact, but still cutting into your fingers. 

When you finally make it out of the heat and climb the stairs to your residence hall, you unpack your groceries and find your frozen pizza is no longer frozen, your yogurt is runny and your fruit is smashed.

This is the reality for many students and families in Brookings who do not have vehicles or convenient and affordable access to public transportation.

Some are lucky enough to have bicycles, but many do not. Even those with bikes are often left stranded when that infamously harsh South Dakota winter comes around.

We all know transportation is a problem. 

We need a bike sharing program. 

We need a bus system. 

We need more than just expensive taxis and van services with unreliable hours. 

But what the students really need is for the university to care — to genuinely care. 

Groups in the past have tried to make changes and help students, and while individuals have benefitted from these efforts, there is no permanent solution. 

Caleb Evenson, co-owner of Bluestem Bicycles and Semehar Ghebrekidan, second-year graduate student, highlighted past programs, like Bum-a-Bike, as campus efforts for bike sharing. 

Due to lack of funds and resources for upkeep and storage, Evenson said, these programs have been unsuccessful in the long term in Brookings.

It is evident there is passion for change with a new bicycle shop downtown and a bicycling club on campus, as well as Ghebrekidan’s recent efforts to assist international students with transportation, but these independent efforts are not enough to help our community.

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We need our university to help its students.

Most likely, the university hopes the city will do something, and the city hopes the university will do something.

But while nobody wants to come forward and make a change, our community struggles.

Students, especially international or out-of-state students, need the university to see them — to see their struggle, empathize with their situations and do something.

They often must rely on friends for rides, which makes students feel like a burden. In the summer, less people are around to help give rides anyway.

Students need accessibility to campus, to the store, to the clinic and to community attractions. Apart from personal hardship, the lack of accessible, affordable transportation polarizes the campus and community. It separates students and community members. It leaves us divided.