On campus

Building and Grounds committee focuses on campus safety, parking

Tech’s Building and Grounds committee will continue to focus on safety and parking in the coming semester.

“Last year we devised a security camera policy, what we can and can’t do to have a camera and what we can and can’t do with what the camera sees,” professor Douglas Airhart, head of the Buildings and Grounds committee, said.

Gay Shepard, Tech’s Chief of police, brought the proposal to the committee for review.

“Whoever has the money, the Chief of police will work with you,” Airhart said regarding whether or not security camera installations are imminent. “I’d have to go online to the state contractor and find the system I want and then come up with the cash to put it in.”

Another prevalent topic in the committee is the parking garage that is already in the University’s Master Plan to be constructed near the STEM Center. Complaints filed about parking generally come back to the committee either directly or through the police station.

“Right now, somebody that’s not a student could park in the open commuter lots and take the spot that the student expected or left,” Airhart said, “As they say, ‘Move your feet, lose your seat.”

The decision to block automobile traffic from the Main Quad did not come through the Buildings and Grounds committee, but it has had an effect on parking, as well.

“We didn’t make that decision; it wasn’t brought to our attention.” Airhart said, “When they decided to close this road and restripe it, they got rid of some of the handicap parking spaces.”

As a result, Building and Grounds is discussing with the Office of Disability Services where the problems are and what needs to be done to fix them.

One of the committee’s past projects was to label the apartments in Tech Village with a letter system so that emergency services could locate and help tenants more quickly.

“Unless someone was standing there flagging you down and pointing you in the right direction, it could take you five minutes to get from one side of Tech Village to the other,” Airhart said.

Buildings and Grounds is also responsible for Tech’s tobacco-free initiative that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

Though the Tennessee Board of Regents encouraged Tech to become a smoke-free campus, Airhart said that complaints from Tech staff played a major part in the decision. According to Airhart, Tech faculty who had exterior doors “pitched a fit” about smoke coming into the building every time a smoker walked in the door.

At the time, there was a policy which allowed smoking 25 feet away from any buildings. When Tech police explained that they had no practical way to deter people from smoking too close to the buildings, the proposal to ban all tobacco on campus was brought forth and ultimately passed.

Faculty and staff aren’t the only people allowed to make suggestions to the committee. Two new crosswalks were created on West 7th Street as a result of a student proposal.

Proposals, including a summary and description, should be submitted in writing to Airhart at which point, they will be added to the committee’s meeting minutes.