Last week, Mount Allison administration officially rejected a proposal from the town council to hire a crossing guard for peak pedestrian times at the Main Street intersection between campus and Jennings, the university dining hall.

The crosswalk has been a safety concern for the town for five years, ever since the dining hall moved to its current location from the other side of campus.

The issues surrounding the crosswalk include student safety and angry motorists who experience a large amount of wait time, especially during peak pedestrian times.

A report was prepared for the Town of Sackville in November 2006 by a group of students in a third year geography class taught by Dr. Michael Fox.

This report was entitled "An Analysis of Pedestrian Safety and Vehicle Wait-Times at the Mount Allison Student Residence Crossing on Main Street, Sackville," and was broken down into four sections: introduction/problem statement, background research, the results of the study, and discussion and recommendations.

"The student research team did an excellent job studying the situation, including an analysis of other university solutions and verifying their analysis with traffic safety experts," commented Fox.

In the report there were four recommendations to solve the issue at the intersection, the first being to convert this crossing to a school zone crossing and employ a crossing guard during peak pedestrian periods. It was suggested that the guard be employed for a 12-week period from September to December and a 12-week period from January to April, having the guard work Monday-Friday for the following times: 8:15 a.m - 9:30 a.m, 11:15 - 12:30 p.m, and 4:15 p.m - 5:15 p.m. This means someone would be hired at minimum wage for 17.5 hours per week, amounting to a total cost of $3091.20 per year. This cost, it was reported, would be shared between the town and Mt. A.

Mt. A's VP Administration, David Stewart, upon announcing the university's decision not to a enter into an agreement with the town on the crossing guard issue, said, "We just didn't think it was going to be an effective way to deal with the concerns."

One of the students involved in conducting the report, Sarah Blake-Dickson, said she was a bit surprised with the university's decision.

"With such a minimal cost to this, it's kind of surprising that they wouldn't at least try it," she said.

Fox echoed her opinion on the decision.

"It is a shame that the university appears to have no interest in dealing with this issue," he said.

Fox added, "I must say that I have been very impressed with the care and responsibility the Mayor and Council have shown on this important safety issue. Their desire to take action through a number of low-cost measures makes great sense."

The issue of the town hiring a crossing guard without the financial assistance on Mt. A's part will be discussed at council's next meeting.

However, perhaps the town should consider implementing one of the other three recommendations made in the report. One such suggestion is installing advanced crosswalk signage and warning systems, as other universities have done. The other recommendations are holding an annual student and public education campaign on crosswalk safety issues and continuing monitoring and enforcement.