The ‘span plan’ has a few springing leaks

BY RAUL CAMINO

Somewhere in the forefront of North American colloquialisms is the phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That phrase appeases the inner sloth in us all, and seemingly has no insightful value. However, in light of The Voice’s recent article on a future bridge that is to be built over Richards Avenue, the saying may have some purpose after all.

Like a shield used to deflect a daunting blow, the idea of “unification” is one that used by top administrative personnel whenever they are questioned why. As if the college is in any danger of east and west withdrawal just because its campus is split in two.

If you asked a student, right now, which side they think is better, the answer you’d get would be derived from selfish reasons. People go where they have class, or where they can get better food. The east campus has horrible lighting, but just as well, a guttery charm to it.

The west is by far the most aesthetically pleasing, but also the most pretentious. It is easy to drone about pros and cons when one really starts to ponder, but the situation is this: hardly any student gives their loyalty to just one campus. And I’m taking a big leap by assuming that.

Whenever I see someone walking down the halls wearing school swag, it bears an all-encompassing name. So, I suspect the question of “unity” is just a huge deflector. It is a “problem” tailored to fit a “solution”. But what about the question of safety?

First off, if natural selection has allowed you enough years on this earth to gather enough intelligence to go to college, then you should know to look both ways when crossing the street. Plain and simple. Yet, there may be, and apparently have been, a particular human or two who negate the laws of the road and speed up while a student is crossing the street. Those particular humans deserve, at the very least, to have their license revoked. At most, a semester’s worth of road safety lectures.

Said top administrative heads have swooned idealistically at the end result of the bridge. “It will be quicker!” “It will be safer!” “It will have AC!” Groovy. However, what happens during the actual building of the thing?

The project will most likely take several months to complete, and whether it happens during the cold, miserable tail end of the year, or in the unbearable heat, the general atmosphere on campus will be the same. The project will also most likely hinder traffic. Which means, the road will probably be closed, because bridges don’t exist in a vacuum, and it’d be ironic if the thing that promises safety along Richards Avenue turns out to be its worst hazard.

But when all is said and done, how will students be barred from crossing the street? With a literal fence and security personnel. Personnel who could be utilized throughout each semester to patrol the crosswalk anyway but won’t because it would be it isn’t “economically viable.” Administrative heads would rather spend $4 million on a vanity project instead of hiring someone to work at the crosswalk.

And how about the community? Not just the college community, but those who actually live around the area? NCC is a commuter college, so one would be hard pressed to find many students who know or actually care about the bridge. There may be a forum for discussion, but given that the project has already been green lit without one, it may never happen. And President David Levinson didn’t seem too eager to address it either.

So there you have it. The state of Connecticut is building a bridge it doesn’t need, with the money it has managed to salvage, without the consensus of the community of Norwalk, and hardly anyone is speaking about it. Hopefully it will have that coffee bar that President Levinson so wistfully spoke about.

But maybe my acerbic analysis of this project is un-called for. The plan, after all, seems to be enacted on in good faith. Who ouldn’t be concerned about safety and unity when choosing a college? And as a commuter school, perhaps a little touching up can help attract more prospective students to the area. But, this moment of levity is a short one, and I stand by my position.

A bridge will unite campuses superficially. But when students are thrashing elbows to get to class on time, we’ll see how “unified” it makes them feel.  And when students, so pressed for time, decides to cross the street, we’ll see how well the bridge prevents impending danger.

Until then, I reiterate the phrase embeded in the North American lexicon:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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