RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has just introduced a new required course to the first year curriculum titled “Crossing the Street 101.”
After years of students stepping into oncoming traffic resulting in angry local drivers petitioning to get rid of the university altogether, staff in the VCU Undergraduate Department realized that students simply had no idea how to cross the street. A campus-wide survey revealed many had never been taught the applicable laws and were unaware that they needed to watch out for moving traffic.
“Students come to Richmond from all over. Some are from the suburbs, some are from small towns, and some just don’t even seem to know what a car is or how dangerous it could be upon collision,” says VCU professor, Nancy McDonnell.
The course is broken up into three main units. The material will cover how to use a sidewalk, how to interpret the painted lines found on streets, and the difference between a moving car and a motionless car. The course will also cover real-life situations, including what to do when you’re unsure about whether or not to cross.
“I’ve found this course really helpful so far,” remarked freshman Hanna Thomas. “I thought those changing pictures underneath the traffic lights, you know, the white-lit man and the orange-lit hand? I thought those were a VCU art project, some sort of statement about diversity or feminism. I had no idea they were there to tell me whether I was allowed to walk across the street or not.”
For their class final, freshmen have to walk from MCV to Cabell Library during rush hour on a Friday afternoon. They will have to look both ways, follow the traffic lights, and make it across each intersection in ten seconds or less. Points are deducted for jaywalking, crossing the street when they don’t have the right of way, texting while crossing, and strolling across Belvidere like they don’t have any other goddamn place to be. Students who are struck by a moving vehicle receive an immediate deduction of one letter grade in the course and may be subject to additional medical testing at MCV.
Says McDonnell, “Walking is hard. Many students are so overwhelmed by the task that they simply throw all of their energy into putting one foot in front of the other and stop paying attention to their surroundings.”