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Belles long for tunnels, brave cold

Justin Tardiff | Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The heavy snows and sub-zero temperatures of the past two weeks have made Saint Mary’s students miss the old underground tunnels more than ever.The tunnels, which connected over half the buildings on the College’s campus, allowed students and faculty to travel underground during inclement weather and at night. The College closed the tunnels indefinitely on Dec. 18., citing insurance reasons. The closure has pushed students outside and into the snow.”I think it’s definitely an inconvenience when the weather conditions are poor or it’s late at night when you’re going to Holy Cross or even just the library, when you have to walk all the way around,” sophomore Katie Whalen said.Students in the far residence halls of Regina and Holy Cross find themselves facing the cold every day as they trek to the dining hall, Cushwa-Leighton Library, Madeleva and science Halls for classes.Maureen MacDonald, who works at the Regina front desk, said she has noticed an increase in traffic through the hall now that the tunnels are closed.”There are definitely more people coming in the front door, especially at night when people are coming back and forth from the library,” she said. “The library from Regina is a further distance from any other building except Holy Cross.”MacDonald, a senior, used the tunnels on a regular basis until December. This semester, she has changed her habits accordingly.”I don’t go to LeMans as much to visit my friends there,” she said. “Especially when I used to do it during the nighttime – I don’t do that as much anymore. I used the tunnels a lot, so I really miss them.”Whalen, a LeMans resident, said while the tunnels’ contribution to campus safety was an asset to Saint Mary’s, she does not avoid leaving her hall just because she cannot walk underground.”It was a strong benefit to be able to use the tunnels,” she said. “But not having them hasn’t stopped me from doing the things I need to do. It doesn’t stop me from visiting my friends in Holy Cross.”Many students pass through LeMans Hall, the most central building on campus, en route to their destinations. Because the tunnels are inaccessible, the side door to LeMans is now open later to accommodate student traffic. The door, which previously closed at 6 p.m., can be accessed with a detex card until 10 p.m.”If you weren’t able to do that, it would be a lot crazier,” said senior Sarah Kelleher, a LeMans front desk worker.Kelleher and other front desk workers said they have noticed an increase of food deliveries to the residence halls in cold weather.”I think the tunnels being closed and Haggar being closed have an effect on it,” Kelleher said.Security escorting services have also seen an increase since the tunnels were sealed. Saint Mary’s Security offers a van to escort students from the parking lots to their halls from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Students can call at any time the van is not running to have an officer escort them.Security officer Marita English, who drives the van occasionally, said security usually receives between 20 and 30 calls per night from girls requesting rides.”It depends on the weather,” she said. “Some of the girls know that the van makes circles around campus at night, so they don’t call, and then again some of the girls call as soon as they get on campus.”English also said both the location of requests and number of calls have changed recently, especially on peak nights Thursday and Sunday.”There are a lot more that get rides – it’s not from the lots, it’s from building to building because the girls used to use the tunnels to get from building to building,” she said. “When it’s cold out, we get a lot [of calls] from the parking lots.”English agreed with the students that the tunnels “were convenient” and said she feels the sentiment from the majority of the campus is they are sorely missed.”I’ve had a lot of girls say they just wish the tunnels were back up.”