(Galway, 2016. The university wants more and more students. We have expanded our campus, improved our services and the government has reduced our budget. So if the private sector does not inject more than a few bob, students or as they prefer to call them at the highest spheres, clients, will have to pay. If we do not want our fees to shoot up, we will need numbers. I understand the game and you do.
BUT let’s look beyond the campus, Galway, 2016, it seems the economy is picking up a bit. The private sector starts hiring again. Parkmore is a nightmare to drive in and out between 7.30 and 9, and 4 and 6. There’s only one way in and out of the industrial state. There’s talk of opening a second exit between ballybrit industrial state and park more but nothing is happening. The same happens at the other end of the city. If you live along the N59, you have to go down to the quincentennial bridge to access Galway East. There’s been talk of a bridge but now the university opposes because it will split the campus once more I heard. And my question is, isn’t it a bridge? Can’t it be built above the campus anyway? I’m probably too simplistic.
So we’ve got lots of new employees and hopefully lots more students and very few houses or apartments available. In other words, for the newcomer our lovely friendly and picturesque Galway turns to be a nightmare when they are looking for accommodation. I know Dublin is the same.
And when you are settled and working you spend between 60 and 180 minutes in traffic or looking for parking.
The university encourages the use of bikes but there’s no provision for cycle paths through the city and cycling on the footpath now us forbidden by law. And some of us have babies and are not confident on bikes with them yet or don’t want to subject them to the inclement weather conditions on a bike just yet. And this winter hasn’t been the friendliest towards cyclist with already storm I getting ready to storm in. I found it quite funny that the lads and lasses were giving visibility vests and lights yesterday for free to cyclists on campus, right after one of the most dangerous day to have been on a bike with winds of up to 120km/h. Cycling is great and I love it, don’t get me mistaken. I’m already looking at a seat for my baby but let’s be serious. Most people need a car in Galway.
Which leads me to my other rant, public transport is unreliable and expensive. There are very few lines that cross the city which results on having to take two buses from my house to college, which makes a 15-30 minute journey in a car, an hour long journey waiting in the cold and rain (a lot of the bus stops have no shelter) and walking as well.
And finally parking, they told us by email yesterday that there are 20.000 of us in college. And our college is right beside the hospital. There are no multi-storey (however you spell that) parkings in either, which makes you dread hit the area after 8.30 and before 3. We pay for park permits that if you have a child to stop to school you won’t use ever because by the time you arrive there’s nothing available. But what I find ridiculous is that the city doesn’t have any pay and display that goes beyond two hours in these areas. The university has but not all of them either. If I have to teach or attend three hours in a row I need to go out to try and change my car or pay again. Or if I have a doctors appointment that goes longer or is late, do I have to leave the waiting room to park again? My colleague told me he witnessed an old lady paying for a clamp for this reason in the hospital. Apart from disgraceful, Isn’t that stupid?
So yes, next time employers offer you a time management course don’t forget to bring these issues up. In all fairness, they irritate most of us much more than other issues and they contribute to the quality of life this city and university offers.
So architects, city planners and university rulers, what is the plan? Because this is not going to get better, all on it’s own.
(Disclaimer: I know this blog is supposed to be about teaching and learning and some of us may think this is outside of it. It’s not. External factors such as time and place are the key to understand the conditions of teaching and learning. I decided to write about this yesterday when I arrived five minutes late to a class with a student that had also been looking for parking. We were both stressed and the cooling down period took a good chunk of the 50 minute class. We did go on for a bit longer than usual last the end of the class but still, I felt so angry about it I wanted to call a strike 🙂 These spaniards huh? They solve everything with strikes and occupations. Well, it happened. I know of a university where staff complained and went on strike until there was provision for assigned parking for all teaching staff. Today I’m less angry about it so I just wrote about it. Grin)