Knox community works to improve pedestrian safety around campus

Memories and remembrances of Tundun Lawani ‘14 from students, faculty and staff are displayed on the wall of the Taylor Student Lounge Monday, Oct. 29. These will be sent to Lawani’s family. (Chalie Gorney/TKS)

Following the Sunday death of Tundun Lawani ’14 in a hit-and-run accident, Knox students are wasting no time to make a mark on South Street, intending to insure that Lawani’s death makes a positive impact.

Though many students are still mourning the death of their classmate, issues of traffic safety are coming to the forefront. Lawani’s death was the third vehicle-to-pedestrian incident involving a Knox student in the last three years.

A group of students is now circulating a petition for Galesburg City Council to investigate options for improving safety on South Street, though city records obtained by The Knox Student show similar discussions in city work sessions and committee meetings date back to at least 2002. As of press time, the petition had 320 signatures.

According to junior Alex Uzarowicz, one of the students behind the petition, it calls for speed limit signs or radar speed signs along South Street.

“I would love to have the students, faculty and staff all sign this petition,” Uzarowicz said. “That would show a lot of conviction and commitment.”

Council member Corine Andersen, whose ward (four) covers the Knox campus, said the recent events warrant “seriously [looking] at this again.” Andersen brought up the issue at an August 2011 City Council meeting, which resulted in a lack of support from the Traffic Advisory Committee.

But meetings between the Knox administration and city officials have continued since then, especially with the expected reopening of Alumni Hall, and talks are expected to pick up in light of Lawani’s death.

At a special meeting of the Student Senate Campus Life Committee Wednesday night, around 50 students showed up to learn about efforts so far and express their own ideas about alleviating the issue of traffic around campus.

These were welcome suggestions for Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf, who met with city officials on Tuesday. Schlaf expects that a sort of “task force” will be formed with representation from the city and the college, and he hopes that there will be student representation to present student ideas.

“Don’t limit yourself to anything on this,” Schlaf said. “Don’t let it just be about one intersection. … This is an opportunity for your voices to be heard. [The ideas] might not happen, but it’s okay to talk about it.”

President Teresa Amott stressed that this may be more than an issue of installing stop signs, though. In an interview with TKS, she mentioned potential methods for controlling traffic flow, such as crosswalks, improved lighting, medians and roundabouts.

Moreover, Amott wants to help students elicit a positive outcome from the tragic event.

“When you get a tragedy, you look for some good that could potentially … change the future so you don’t relive the past,” Amott said.

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Charlie Megenity
Charlie Megenity (formerly Gorney) is a senior double majoring in political science and economics. He previously served TKS as managing editor and as co-news editor while working as the weekend reporter for The Galesburg Register-Mail. Over the summer of 2012, Charlie interned in Wisconsin with, an online hyperlocal news source, where he covered the August 2012 Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting; he will return to Patch during the summer of 2013. He is also the journalism editor for Catch magazine.. Charlie has received three awards from the Illinois College Press Association for newswriting and design, including a first place award for front page layout. He was the 2013 recipient of the Theodore Hazen Kimble Memorial Award in Journalism for a feature story published in The Knox Student. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post.

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