It is a 1.9-mile journey from Culkin Hall to the Rice Creek Field Station, which translates into a 45-minute walk for students, which is not on sidewalks off-campus.
This walk is necessary for students who cannot find rides and have to complete ecological research at the site, because there is no van transportation or Centro bus stop.
Rice Creek is located on Thompson Road apart from main campus, and operates as a research center for students studying ecology. It holds two or three courses a semester according to Jean DuFore, the assistant registrar. Rice Creek also serves as a trailhead for paths, which are used for research and hiking.
The distance has proven to be cumbersome for students. Staff at Rice Creek have said that while they can accommodate students by using Oswego State vans to bring them back and forth for class, there is no transportation for those conducting research.
Due to the distance, Rice Creek helps transport students to and from campus by college vans. Biology professors know about the service and students were asked if they would be willing to car pool at the beginning of the semester. Most students chose to car pool but some still use the service, said Wendy Fragale, a secretary at Rice Creek.
Some students, like junior zoology major Cheryl Sandrow, did not know about the service. Sandrow goes to Rice Creek on a regular basis for class and for research.
"There was no offer of any van service to or from Rice Creek," Sandrow said. "Generally students carpool and I managed to do that."
The service does not extend to bringing students back and forth for research because that is too close for personal use, Fragale said.
This means that any student who needs to conduct research needs to find a ride or walk. Sandrow has normally been able to find rides, but at times has walked parts of the route.
"The few sections I have had to walk were nerve-racking because there were cars rushing by," Sandrow said.
Students who walk must take State Route 104 and Thompson Road, which are 45 mph speed zones and without sidewalks.
"It’s a huge safety concern," said Student Association President Steven DiMarzo. "It is dangerous to walk down Route 104 and Thompson Road whether there are sidewalks or not."
Apart from the safety concerns, many students do not have the time to walk there. Students like Sandrow have to walk trails in order to collect the data necessary for their research projects.
"I have about three hours to walk as much of it as I can at the station, but that would be cut significantly, if I had to walk there," Sandrow said. "It would take a little over 45 minutes to get there from the edge of campus – one way. That isn’t feasible when I only have three hours to work with."
Several people have begun discussing the solution to provide a reliable source of transportation for anyone who needs to go to Rice Creek for class, labs, research or even just to walk the trails.
"I believe that if this issue were addressed there could be an easy solution." DiMarzo said. "Possibly stops for Centro or the ‘Green Route’ could be added at busy times of the day."
DiMarzo also said that having a Centro bus go to Rice Creek could be problematic because there is limited space to turn around.
The Centro contract is renewed every year, according to General Manager of Auxiliary Services Michael Flaherty. Auxiliary Services works with the department of facilities and Student Association, among others, to see what ideas there are for new routes and then work with Centro to see what ideas are feasible.
"It wouldn’t even have to be every 10 or 20 minutes. Once every half-hour would work," Sandrow said. "Rice Creek is part of the SUNY Oswego campus, there should be transportation available to students to get there."
Flaherty also said that since Centro is paid by the hour, a shuttle would be optimal because it would be too far to add to the current routes.
"It’s not a time thing, so much the distance," Flaherty said. "I think you would need a separate shuttle."
Students like Sandrow feel that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
"I am actively pursuing the matter, and I hope to have a transportation made available for all students to Rice Creek with my persistence, and the help of S.A.," Sandrow said.