Community Panel Talks About Issues Facing UVM

Students from the University of Vermont gathered on Feb.28 for a discussion on all aspects of campus life.

The Inter Residence Association (IRA) hosted the Community Forum. IRA invited students and delegates from police services, parking and transportation, dining services and the department of residential life. The panel discussed dining questions and transportation issues, among others.

Paul Bahan, director of marketing for dining services, announced that Cook Commons will transition from a “grab and go” to an “all you care to eat” dining facility for the 2008-2009 school years. Bahan also commented that the Davis center will offer the “grab and go” option for central campus.

According to Bahan, starting Sept. 1 2007, the Market-place at the Davis center will offer multiple dining options. Bahan described some of the dining options, which will include Indian food and a Mediterranean station, according to Bahan, “that will go far be-yond pizza.” Sakura will serve sushi and New World Tortilla will provide students with Mexican cuisine.

While the Davis center will offer a large variety of international food choices, the plan is for the Davis center to use as much local food as possible. According to Bahan, some menu items will be unique to UVM and will incorporate Vermont products. The Farmer’s Diner, of Quechee, VT is one of the venues focusing on Vermont food.

One of the dining options, Brennan’s Pub, was the topic of some student’s questions, with student’s voicing worries that offering a place to drink on a dry campus will create more incriminating situations for students.

“We know that students will drink on campus. We know that they’ll go downtown. We want to create a space where students can drink with their friends or family when they come,” Bahan said. Bahan emphasized that the pub will have strict regulations and limits.

“UVM understands the responsibility that comes with an on campus pub,” Bahan said. According to Bahan, UVM is looking at other campuses, including Middlebury College, as models as they put the finished plans for Brennan’s Pub and Bistro into motion.

Concerns about current alcohol usage were discussed with Sue Roberts, an officer with police services. With the police services fully staffed, some students worried about the presence of police on weekend buses.

“It’s okay to have [an officer] on the bus, but it makes people second guess getting on the bus when the police officer is breathalizing almost every kid who gets on,” freshman Bob Just said. “If they feel threatened to go on the bus, they may end up walking or driving.”

“We want to get students back to school safely,” Roberts said, “if we were going to stalk students who drink, we’d just wait at the bus stop.”

Roberts said that officers are on busses because drivers have requested their presence. “Once the problem is generated and we’re contacted, we’re not just going to target the one person who started it.”

The transportation theme continued as several students expressed dissatisfaction with crowding on busses.

“The bus driver looks at you and shakes his head, and keeps driving [because the bus is already at capacity],” one student in the audience said.

Katherine Decarreau, director of parking and transportation empathized with the students while explaining the logistics. According to Decarreau, UVM recently purchased two new busses, which can hold up to 20 percent more students than the old buses. This increase brings the total to 10 buses, but according to Decarreau, staffing them is a challenge.

Decarreau added that they try to be environmentally responsible by not running buses empty all day. Decarreau said, that the bus right before and right after the “peak class time” is often empty. “Sometimes students just have to get up a little bit earlier, and walking is always an option as well,” Decarreau said.