Going off road

Campus Safety and Physical Plant discuss FSU vehicles operating through campus

Ferris vehicles can be seen driving on sidewalks and parked in front of buildings all around campus. Photo by: Hunter Pariseau I Interim Photographer

Between clearing sidewalks of snow during the winter and restoring power after extreme weather,

Ferris maintenance vehicles often drive on sidewalks around campus.

“There’s always those really annoying golf carts that’ll just whip out in front of you, and the vans,” Ferris health care systems administration student Kaitlyn McMann said. “There’s definitely some risk with other students walking around campus, because if people aren’t watching out, those big vans can hit kids.”

Ferris pre-medical junior James Bryant said it would be frustrating for bicyclists on campus to encounter vehicles on the sidewalks.

“I can see why it can be annoying for some kids,” Bryant said. “I don’t bike to class, but I can see that it could get irritating if you bike to class and have to move around the cars.”

Ferris Department of Public Safety Director Bruce Borkovich said students’ safety comes first when it comes to these vehicles driving through campus.

“We are primarily a pedestrian campus,” Borkovich said. “We have an obligation to our pedestrians to keep the campus safe. This is what has prompted some conversations that we’ve had recently on addressing this.”

In 2006, Ferris adopted a business policy referred to as the Operations of Motor Vehicles on Sidewalks and Lawns. This policy states emergency vehicles (such as police and fire), university vehicles “under emergency conditions,” snow removal and lawn maintenance vehicles, and any vehicle with special parking passes can operate on campus sidewalks and lawns. This and other policies can be found on the Ferris website.

“Primarily, it’s the physical plant folks and the housing folks that have most of the vehicles that you see,” Borkovich said.

Many different departments across campus use motor vehicles in their daily work. These vehicles can be used to move heavy equipment from each building and deliver mail.

“It doesn’t bother me too much. I understand why they have to do it,” Ferris criminal justice sophomore Noah Maxson said. “It helps them travel a shorter distance, so it doesn’t really bother me.”

Although these safety protocols are in place, Borkovich also said there are precautions students can take when they see any maintenance vehicles driving through campus.

“One trend that we observe is that many of our students are walking around with earphones on and they’re texting,” Borkovich said. “They’re shutting out the sights and sounds of campus. We really encourage pedestrians, when you’re going from building to building, turn the head-
phones off, put the phone down and pay attention to your surroundings.”

Ferris Associate Vice President of Physical Plant Michael Hughes said students should use common sense when walking through campus.

“We have people that go across crosswalks or crossing streets without looking up,” Hughes said. “Just people being aware of their surroundings and paying attention. Don’t text and walk.”

According to Hughes, it is ultimately the responsibility of both the Ferris faculty and students to be aware of their surroundings.

“People do need to understand the basic laws of physics,” Hughes said. “You might have the right of way, but if you walk out in front of a car in the street, you’re not going to win.”