By Michael Willson
There are a lot of benefits to going to school in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. You can spend the day at the Oceanfront, meet a kangaroo at the Virginia Zoo and go shopping at MacArthur and Lynnhaven Malls. Yes sir, there is so much to do, if you have a car that is.
Let’s face it; unless you have a car or know someone who drives, you are going to be stuck on campus. That is because Virginia Wesleyan is in an awkward location. While Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University have the benefit of being in the middle of the city, we are right next to suburbia. Don’t get me wrong, Military Circle and JANAF are right around the corner, but they are not easy places to walk to. You have to walk along the side of the road to get there. While I know some people who are fine taking that walk, the risk of getting hurt is not worth it to me. The walk to Northampton Blvd. is a little safer, but it takes a good 10-15 minutes to get there. The closest place to walk to is the 7-Eleven on Bakers Rd., which is known as an unsafe area in Virginia Beach. You want to go to Downtown Norfolk? Forget it. There’s no way you can walk there.
This makes getting food very difficult as well. I learned that the hard way. When I was a freshman, I missed lunch in the dining hall. With it being the weekend, the Grille was closed, leaving eating out as my only option. When I asked the security guard at the front gate what the safest way was to get off campus, he rudely responded, “In a car.” Feeling uneasy about his response and have not yet been introduced to Chanello’s, I had to settle for a bag of microwave popcorn.
This leads to another reason why it’s not easy to walk off campus: security. I understand that security is trying to keep us safe. While I respect and appreciate all that they do for us, I feel that they make things more difficult than they need to be. In order to get on and off campus, you have to go through the front gate. This isn’t a big deal if you’re driving, but it can be awkward if you’re walking. I know some people just cut through the baseball fields. Yes, I will admit that I have done that myself, but I feel sketchy doing it.
Now I do have the benefit of being in a fraternity with a number of brothers who have cars. We go out to the movies, the mall to hang out, and make midnight food runs to Cookout and Wawa. Unfortunately, not everyone has that benefit. It is unfair to assume those who don’t have cars will be taken care of by those who do. There are some students who might not have many friends or any friends who drive. What do we do about them? It’s not like we can just pick up the campus and put it in the middle of Downtown Norfolk or Virginia Beach Town Center. What if students need to go to the store or just get away for a while?
Yes, we have the Marlin Transit. They provide weekly trips to Walmart and Target, but is that really enough? I propose that we expand the Marlin Transit, turning it into an actual shuttle. Instead of having weekly trips to Walmart and Target, why not institute a daily schedule with multiple trips to Military Circle, JANAF, and Northampton Blvd.? On weekends, we can include trips to Downtown Norfolk (specifically MacArthur Center), Virginia Beach Town Center, Lynhaven Mall and the Oceanfront. This shuttle can also provide services to the residents of the apartment complex that will be built across the street.
In addition to making it easier to get off campus, this shuttle will also create more jobs for students. With daily trips, we will need a lot of drivers. Not only that, but a shuttle driving throughout Norfolk and Virginia Beach that says, “Virginia Wesleyan College: Bring a Spark, Light a Fire” is a pretty good method of advertising.
Now I know what you are thinking: “The school is too small to have a shuttle.” Well, I did my research and found that other small schools such as Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College and Randolph College all have a shuttle.
A shuttle is exactly what Virginia Wesleyan College needs. There’s a lot to do in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, but you can’t enjoy it if you can’t get off campus.