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Doane hill slated for construction of turnaround, students protest

Part of Doane hill is slated to become pavement in the very near future.

That pavement will be a turnaround with 25-30 parking spaces, according to Executive Director of Campus Services Carl Altomare. Judging by the surveyors’ stakes on the hill, the turnaround will extend at least halfway up the hill.

This turnaround is the result of a request by Radnor Township.

“The closing of the Thomas Drive exit was written into the requirements,” Vice President of Student Development Bettie Ann Brigham said, referring to the conditions the township placed on the building of the new residence hall and office building.

The closing of the exit means Thomas Drive will again become a two-way street, and the parking along the drive will be taken away, according to Altomare.

The turnaround itself, according to Brigham, is necessary both to replace the parking spaces that will be lost on Thomas Drive when it becomes a two-way street and also to allow access for emergency vehicles.

The turnaround will not add any parking spaces to the current total number of spaces available on campus, according to an email sent to the student body by Brigham.

That email also said the reason for the township’s stipulation concerning closing the Thomas Drive exit was a petition by the neighbors to the township, which included the statement, as quoted in the email, “the excessive speeds of Eastern student cars endanger the lives of our children.”

The construction has sparked intense reaction from students since surveyors were spotted on Doane hill April 20. Several Facebook groups have been formed, and some students have taken their protests even further.

For instance, by April 21, all the surveyors’ stakes had been pulled up and replaced with pansies.

First-year Jeremiah Barker, one of the seven students involved in planting the flowers, said they were meant as a symbol.

“It looks like the flowers sprouted up and threw the stakes down,” he said. “Now they will be using the flowers as markers.”

The flower planting set Eastern’s schedule for construction back a bit, because the land had to be resurveyed, according to Altomare.

Some students also staged an approved campout on Doane hill on April 22. The flower planting and the campout were ways that students reacted concretely to what was going on.

“One victory we can have is to not be apathetic and to act on what you can,” sophomore Anna Pelger, who helped plant the pansies and who participated in the campout, said.

Students’ main complaint concerning the construction is the lack of communication they feel took place around it.

“One of our main concerns is the way the administration handled it,” Pelger said. “We didn’t get the chance to dialogue.”

Other students are coming to terms with the reality of the construction.

“Now that they’ve started and they’re not taking down as many trees as I thought, I’m ok with it,” junior Brittany Smith said.

According to Brigham, an email was sent out to students earlier, and SGA was informed last semester that Thomas Drive would be closed. She said that when the administration wants student input, they go through SGA.

“SGA is the voice of the students,” she said.

Despite the sadness Brigham said she will feel at seeing the hill turned into pavement, she said that the issue went deeper than simply preserving the hill.

“Nothing is black and white,” she said. “Nothing is easy.”

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