the Tide | Seeking Safety
am writing to agree with Professor Summers' comments about
the paucity of Friday classes for undergraduates at Penn.
But the problem is even more severe than he suggests. In
fact, the vast majority of undergraduate courses at Penn
are offered Monday through Thursday, from 10:30 a.m. through
3 p.m., a situation which creates severe pressures on our
classrooms and causes course scheduling conflicts that
make it exceptionally difficult for students to construct
intellectually challenging and interesting academic programs.
it may be the case that many faculty enjoy having their
Fridays free in order to devote an entire day to their
research activities, it is my belief that we have been
brought to our present, unfortunate state not by faculty
self-indulgence or sloth, but, rather, by an excessive
solicitousness to our students' sleeping habits and to
their afternoon sports practice needs. And I, and other
deans, may be part of the problem as well, for faculty
have become increasingly aware that administrators pay
some attention to course enrollments, and therefore are
reluctant to schedule their classes when students are sleeping
or playing on the sporting fields.
has become a university with a remarkably responsive "customer
service" attitude toward its students, whether in
the construction of cinema complexes, shopping malls and
luxury fitness centers or in the manner in which we manage
to fit our classes into the panoply of other student activities.
I think we have perhaps gone too far in this direction.
As one means of reversing a process in which I have been
admittedly complicit, I have recently asked SAS departments
to consider offering some of their large-enrollment, requirement-fulfilling
courses at 9 a.m.
suspect that something more than this may be necessary
to reverse the tide, but I hope it will move us in the
Richard R. Beeman, Dean,
College of Arts and Sciences
following was sent to Chief of PoliceThomas
Rambo and others, including Almanac.
Safety on Sidewalks
the Penn Police are lauded by the Governor's Office for
a Buckle-Up PA Grant Program, be assured I will actively
work to rescind that award for your disinclination to enforce
Commonwealth "black letter law."
Briggs has been ten years yammering away over bicycles
on sidewalks (note that the date on Judith Rodin's letter
promising support was October 3, 1994). Your glib October
response (Almanac October
15, 2002) to Professor Ann Mayer is word for word what
I received from you last May (Almanac May
7, 2002), so the Chief of Penn Police can hardly claim
the community's strident calls for help are news (Almanac October
22, 2002, November
9, 1999), nor can he ask why didn't somebody bring
crashes between legal foot-traffic and wheel-traffic illegally
on sidewalks to his attention earlier (University of
Pennsylvania Library Orrery, Volume 23, Number 1, January
watched Tom Rambo careen from a hard-charging, go-ahead
police officer to a stooge for the administration. Once
a cop starts obeying some civilian kissy-faced memos issuant
out of College Hall instead of his sworn oath to uphold
and enforce the law his badge turns to tinfoil.
same university leadership encouraging this do-nothing
policy will deny it all and toss Chief Rambo to the wolves--all
in the name of Ultimate Accountability--once someone on
crutches gets killed because the victim couldn't scamper
out of the way in time to avoid impact.
of us, including the University President, remember the
days of Ted Barkus and the Campus Guards, a comedy troupe
of Keystone Kops who dressed up but failed to act.
silently, bicyclists sporting protective gear operating
on sidewalks, whacking pedestrians without warning, unite
every segment on this campus: deans to dishwashers, surgeons
to sophomores. We, all of us, are in the crosshairs. I've
witnessed a dismounted bike-officer banged from the side
waiting to cross the 34th & Walnut intersection. This
packet of 24 photographs was snapped within eight minutes--check
the shadows--of 9 a.m. one Thursday in early October: same
spot an employee had her ankle broken and the Monday, November
4, collision between a bicycle and a pair of construction
workers pushing a loaded wheelbarrow. I stand ready to
submit much more: 10:30 a.m., just after noon, 3 and 5
p.m. are particularly hazardous times.
am encouraging my union, Local 590, AFSCME to demand an
accounting of how many citations your force has issued
sidewalk-cyclists; special emphasis on the investigation
of the April 1991 incident when that Van Pelt Library clerk
was knocked to the ground by some miscreant charging downhill,
frisky and free as the winds of spring.
never saw police get the offender's name.
common sense and victim payouts won't motivate you, there's
always the embarrassment of public outcry. Either way,
with the chief's support or despite it, the walking population
is going to find safety on our footpaths.
didn't do anything. Now they're an even bigger problem.
What are you going to do?
standing on the steps of the Rhoads Pavilion, where HUP
meets the Quad, you can observe student and bike-courier
tiremarks on patients coming in and out for cancer treatment
or liver transplants.
to conceal your personal shame at what cruel indignities
the hale n' hearty are working on the dying.
any humanist contain his outrage hearing, in place of excuse
me,' get the f*** outta my way, oldhead'?
brick pavement, by impressive iron gates--halfheartedly
decorated with Walk Bicycles' signs, is the very
best location for a video crew from Fox News to film the
dangers of strolling about the University of Pennsylvania's
undisciplined multifunction sidewalks.
going to suggest the reporter bring along a radar-gun to
record the bikes' velocity. It's going to require a whole
new set of prepackaged double-talk to dodge those eye-popping
Jerry Briggs, Van Pelt Library
Note: Almanac is anticipating an article from
the UPPD next month, about a Share the Road bicycle
safety campaign to be launched in University City
by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.
Out welcomes reader contributions.
Short, timely letters on
University issues will be
accepted by Thursday at noon
for the following Tuesday's
issue, subject to right-of-reply
guidelines. Advance notice
of intention to submit is
Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 13, November 19, 2002