Design U Intern Assignment 1: Campus Woes

As a new student at the wonderful University of Minnesota, I feel lucky every day to be fortunate enough to study, play, and live at this incredible institution. I have access to more information, resources, and opportunities than the majority of people that have been lucky or unlucky enough to walk the earth. To say that I am anything less than set up would be to spit in the faces of all those who have worked much harder than I have for so much less.

With that said, being a student here kinda sucks sometimes. I doubt that there is a University in this country where that isn’t true; our woes are hardly unique. Many of the things that cause the dissatisfaction of myself and my peers are problems that are not meant to be solved, but rather dealt with in order to help us grow. We are not supposed to be comfortable in every aspects of our lives. To not be challenged in the classroom, and at times out of it, would simply be a waste of our money. But not all hardships faced by students here are necessary to personal, academic, or professional growth. Sometimes, that shit is just stupid. There are things that put that oh-so-small scowl on the faces of those walking to class. Things that piss us off, but not enough for them to do anything about them. Some things just get under everyone’s skin, faculty and students alike. Such simple problems often can have surprisingly large effects on the efficiency of this University and the way that those involved with the school operate.

Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I’ve been tasked with looking for such nuisances in my daily life here and in the lives of my peers. Some problems addressed are small, insignificant or easily fixable, while others are less so. In order to fulfill my quota of 15 identified institutional issues, I drew from personal observation and experience as well as the ideas of 2 of my fellow university students.

Observation

As was explained to me in the briefing for this assignment, people tend to focus on themselves as they walk om place to place. Which assignment should I work on first when I get back to the dorm? Did I remember to send in that powerpoint for my lab group’s presentation? Did that girl just smile at me? Oh, nevermind, she was looking at the dog behind me. How the hell did I get a C on that multivariable test with a 92%? Thinking through our internal issues is a great for us to utilize off time that we can’t avoid when moving from one place to another. But in doing so, we forget to observe. Through observation, we can not only see all the beauty that resides the world around us, but we can also see all those little things that really piss us off. So that’s what I had to do. Observe.

  1. Saturated Racks

The bike racks all around campus are great, but in many locations they simply don’t hold as many bikes as there are bikes to hold. This results in students chaining up their bikes to those signs that say “Please stop chaining your bike to this sign,” which makes for a great ironic little photo op. But if the University doesn’t want bikes locked up on their signs, the should get some larger/more/more spatially efficient bike racks.

2. The Washington Bridge

People usually get pretty worried when bridges start falling apart (and rightfully so), yet our beloved bridge is lookin’ pretty drab. While I’m sure its still quite structurally sound (I would hope), the indoor walkway seems to be crumbling. There are holes in every other five of the wooden panels that used to be painted maroon but are now just sad, sad boards that are now less attractive than their driftwood cousins. The building was already pretty ugly, but now students might wonder if they have to worry about being attacked by one of those giant rat things from the Princess Bride as they stroll over to their Tuesday drawing class.

3. Campus Connectors

Speaking of the Washington Bridge, the campus connectors that are supposed to cross said bridge every 5 minutes or so are often grossly off of schedule. at certain stops, I have seen two or three buses show up simultaneously. I would imagine that the first two weren’t just ahead of schedule, either.

4. Bike and Pedestrian Traffic

If you’ve ever walked from the mall to Bruininks around 7:50 AM, you understand what this is about. I’m not about to do the research to find out who designed the layout for the pedstrian walkways and bike lanes, but I bet he was a dick. Seriously, there are so many intersections between the two that you would think they were trying to make a diagram of DNA. I haven’t seen anyone get hit yet, but I have seen people fall off of their bikes. Spooky shit.

5. Alternative Transportation Friendliness

Scooters, rollerblades, unicycles , longboards, skateboards, pennyboards, surfboards, pack mules. Everyone seems to have a favorite method of getting from point A to B. But the boards and blades, while often not fast enough for the bike lane, are much too fast for the packed Washington sidewalks.

Interview

To get a second (and third) opinion on the subject, I had a nice talk with my neighbor, Christian, who is in the Pre-Arch program in CDES, and his girlfriend Jacqueline, an undecided in CLA. They were able to generate ideas much faster than I was.

  1. Meals Don’t Carry Over

It always feels like such a waste when unused meal passes get dumped at the end of every week. I think most freshmen that don’t have unlimited meals would be all for a solution to this one.

2. The Dorms Are Gross

Yeah, this one’s pretty self explanatory. As residents of Territorial Hall, we are starting to get used to the mixed smell of pot, puke, and alcohol. Don’t even get us started on the men’s bathrooms.

(It should be noted that around this point, I ran out of time to fully explain each problem and talk about what we can do about these problems. I have listed out the remainder of the issues that came up, and may be able to fully explain them at a later date if necessary.)

3. Printer Woes

4. Moodle

5. Overcrowded Dorms

Experience

  1. Outlets
  2. The Lecture Hall Shuffle
  3. Dorm Sounds
  4. Weekend Food Access
  5. The Goddamned U of M website

So which ones should we really address?

  1. Bike and Pedestrian Traffic
  2. Overcrowded Dorms
  3. The Goddamned Website
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