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Sunday, May 9, 2021

The pitfalls of a campus of bricks

By Aaron Gillis


Picture this: You are walking across campus, having a simple conversation with friends as you head to class. Nothing could be better. Then, all of a sudden, life flashes before your eyes as the edge of a brick catches your foot, and you are left trying to gather your belongings as well as your dignity.

The perpetrator. Photo by Aaron Gillis

Sound familiar? You’re probably not alone. Although numbers couldn’t be specified, just about everyone who has stepped foot on Western’s campus has probably tripped on a brick.

Outdoor Maintenance Supervisor Gary Hodge estimates that his shop repairs and/or replaces over 1,000 bricks each year.

There are hundreds of bricks on campus in some state of repair. The degree at which they are determines their priority as well manpower to make the repair,” Hodge said.

Freshman Claire Howerton, who trips roughly once a month, said the area by Parks and Arntzen Hall is the roughest.

“It’s really embarrassing. There’s always people around, and then you kick a brick,” Howerton said.

Junior Vincent Carter has had near death experiences of his own.

“I almost ate it on my scooter one time. That was gnarly,” he said.

Bernard Housen, professor and chair of the geology department, had some insight on the instability of the bricks.

The main cause is that Western facilities’ trucks and vans are allowed to drive all over campus on those bricks, and damaging the underlayment (which was not designed to be a roadway),” he said in an email. “So, if we want to avoid this, we should not have Western vehicles driving all over the place.”

Housen also added that he has tripped many times.


“It’s really embarrassing. There’s always people around, and then you kick a brick.”



Although it is hard to spot an uneven brick before tripping, professor Scott Linneman claims that distracted pedestrians may be making walking harder than it has to be.

I wonder if the tripping problem is exacerbated by distracted pedestrians,” he said.“Could the problem be more about phones than about bricks?”

Junior Daniel Korus claims that the worst occurrence is when water under the bricks shoots up and splashes everywhere.

“If you’re wearing chinos, you’re dead. Game over,” Korus said.

According to Facilities Management, there are approximately 2 million bricks on campus, which could pose as a never-ending source of dangerous tripping hazards.

Hodge did give hope for life-long brick trippers, however, explaining how new brick materials are being implemented to ensure brick stability.

They are made of concrete which is much more durable than the existing clay pavers, are thicker and interlock, making them less susceptible to becoming a tripping hazard down the road,” he said.

The bricks declined to comment on the story.


  1. Just visited campus this past weekend and noticed that the bricks look to have more dips and slopes creating much bigger rain puddles than tripping bricks yet I do definnitely recall stubbing many a tennis shoe back in the ’80’s.

  2. As someone who did plenty of tripping on Western’s bricks (it was the ’70s and we were tripping everywhere…), I can assure Professor Linneman that the problem existed far earlier than the advent of the smartphone.

    But your new shoes are worn at the heels
    And your suntan does rapidly peel
    And your wise men don’t know how it feels
    To be thick as a brick

  3. Is this an ongoing, decades old problem? I mean, there have always been bricks on campus, even in the olden days of the 1970s. This didn’t seem to be a topic of concern back then. It does seem that distraction could be the issue here.


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