By Mia Steben
Two Western University Police officers were handing out $68 tickets to jaywalkers on Thursday, April 12.
University Police issued 23 tickets in total and gave some additional warnings, Paul Cocke, Western’s director of communications, said in an email.
The officers were located at the intersection of Bill McDonald Parkway and West College Way, near the Wade King Student Recreation Center.
“This location was chosen because it is a place where a significant amount of jaywalking occurs,” Cocke said.
He said they had pinpointed specific areas of increased pedestrian danger.
One police officer was handing out a steady stream of tickets while the other looked toward the crosswalk.
A large sign left by University Police warned pedestrians of unlawfully entering the crosswalk when the red hand signal is shown or flashing.
According to the sign, this is in compliance with Washington State Legislation code RCW 46.61.060.
“Pedestrian safety has been a significant concern on campus for some time and has been a subject of discussion in prior meetings of the University’s Central Health and Safety Committee,” Cocke said. “The amount of jaywalking on campus has reached dangerous levels.”
One student was hit while crossing Bill McDonald Parkway near Birnam Wood, suffering a leg injury, on January 24, 2018.
Sophomore Fatuma Musa was one of the students who received a ticket on Thursday.
Walking with a group of students near the rec center, Musa looked both ways before crossing the intersection street, only to be met by two officers who requested her state ID. Musa was fined $68 for jaywalking.
“I would like to see a warning or just letting us know this is a serious thing,” Fatuma said. “We understand that it is the law, but at the same time, so many students do it.”
Musa said the measures taken were unjust because only a few students were ticketed.
“It would be more fair if everyone knows about it and everyone gets the consequences for it, rather than just a few people they caught,” Musa said.
Sophomore Kai Bjarke was concerned about the University Police’s prioritization of issues on campus.
“Their main thing was parking enforcement. They have a pretty strong presence with that,” Bjarke said. “I guess they felt in expanding their scope, they should focus on jaywalking, when we have many more pressing issues such as sexual assault, hate speech and antisemitism.”
Bjarke said it was appalling to use their resources on an issue that garners such a large fine. Bjarke said everyone can agree that no one wants to pay $68 for crossing a road that is safe.
The University’s Central Health and Safety Committee had previously discussed the subject of jaywalking and were concerned with the issue on campus, Cocke said.
By Thursday afternoon the officers had left.
On Friday, the sign cautioning people not to jaywalk was put back up, but no officers were at the intersection handing out tickets.