Opening the floodgate

St. John’s has been, of late, fining students for climbing a ladder. A well situated, convenient, University-built ladder, right here on campus.

The ladder in question, also known as the gate at Gate 7, has been the cause for strife among some students and administrators since the controversial decision was made to close it at 7 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays.

To clarify, St. John’s did not make this decision without good reason. They were served a court order supported by the residents of the surrounding community that legally binds them to do so.

Although the University is complying with the decision, and though I do not think the residents of the surrounding community are being unreasonable, St. John’s could, and should, do more to alleviate some of the problems caused by the gate’s closure.

Quite frankly, the ladder-style gate is a danger to both students in particular and to the University in general. It is a danger to students because some have jumped over it, risking the potential for injury. It is a danger to the University because if a student does get injured jumping over the gate, St. John’s could face a hefty lawsuit for not taking the necessary precautions to protect its students.

But that’s all conjecture. Let’s take a look at a few steps St. John’s could take to resolve the problem without resorting to unreasonably extreme measures.

Option #1: Instead of fining every student that jumps over the gate, the University should change the structure of the gate itself, and eliminate the problem at its source. St. John’s should swap the ladder-style gate for a portion of the beautiful black fence surrounding most of the University; this would work better as a deterrent to potential trespassers.

It’s almost hypocritical; St. John’s provides students with a temptingly convenient alternative to parking at the always packed Gate 6, which includes the seemingly mile-long trek to the residence village, and then fines us for taking advantage of it.

Option #2: St. John’s should be trying to legally resist the court order with more intensity. One of the jobs of the University is to fight for the well-being of its students. Where is St. John’s legal team in all of this?

The school successfully circumvented the complaints of the neighbors of the new off-campus housing complexes, and the kind folks who live by Gate 6 aren’t complaining. (Or if they are, St. John’s is doing a good job of representing us on that front as well). Johnny Cochran got O.J. off: get Gate 6 open.

Resident students pay St. John’s to provide them the equivalent of a home over the course of the school year. If a student is carrying heavy bags or not feeling well, entering the campus by way of the most convenient gate available would increase the convenience of campus life.

Either Gate 7 should be available for resident students 24 hours a day, or the administration should get rid of the ladder. Period.