One of the two exits to the University of Connecticut’s Hilltop Apartments is almost permanently closed by a combination of large cement blocks and a gate only accessible to UConn buses and service vehicles.
The gate was installed in November 2018 and some UConn students find it frustrating.
“Because I live here, I have to drive all the way around to be able to park near my building,” Noah Burrick, a seventh-semester finance major, said. “The GPS still tells you that you can drive this way too. I wish there was reasoning or an explanation available to the students.”
According to Dwight Atherton, associate director of UConn Parking and Transportation services, the gate was installed under the recommendation of a traffic management study the university paid to have conducted.
“The gated access was implemented to enhance pedestrian safety and that need is expected to continue in the future,” Atherton said.
Since the gate’s implementation, however, some students have taken matters into their own hands, raising the gate by hand and risking arrest.
According to the UConn Police Department, five students have been arrested and charged with criminal mischief in the third degree for vandalizing the Hilltop gate since its installation. In Connecticut, third degree criminal mischief charges can carry a maximum jail sentence of six months and up to $1000 in fines.
According to the police reports, each incident involved a student exiting a car and manually lifting (and breaking) the arm of the gate to allow the car to pass through the gated area.
According to records obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request made earlier this year, the university paid an estimated $3,910 to implement a security camera monitoring the gate in January. Footage from this camera is cited as being used in all but one of the arrest reports.
“I don’t know the cost of maintaining the gate and camera,” Burrick said. “But if you want to get into Hilltop this way you absolutely still can.”
Not every student is willing to risk arrest for the shortcut, however.
“It probably wastes three minutes of my time every time I drive,” Robert Dambier, a fifth-semester actuarial science major, said. “But I wouldn’t say it’s a big enough issue to make me want to go under the gate.”
UConn students are not the only ones affected by this diversion of traffic. According to Faruk Kiraç, a driver for Doordash, Grubhub and Uber, the efficiency of his work is hindered by both the inability to drive through Hilltop and the fact that some GPS systems inaccurately suggest that drivers can drive through the gated area.
“If we want to drive from [Calhoun Way] to Hilltop Apartments it should be less than a half mile away, but instead we have to drive two or three miles out of our way,” Kiraç said. “Most of the drivers coming from other towns follow the GPS and wind up having to drive a few miles around, making them late.”
Nick Smith is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.