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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
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Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

Train delays

 
 

Every day, an enormous bellowing machine crawls its way through the Texas A&M campus. Nearly every student is aware of the train that has become a defining feature of this school and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, the railroad also operates during class time changes, which often causes students to be reprimanded for tardiness that was beyond their control.
Faculty and staff often cite the two tunnels under the tracks – one on University Drive and the other near the West Campus Parking Garage – as reasons for not excusing students. They fail to recognize that these are major detours for a student heading to classes in the main section of West Campus.
In fact, over the course of 10 recent runs, it took the Wehner Express bus an average of 10 minutes to go from Fish Pond to the Wehner bus stop using the University Drive tunnel. When students only have 20 minutes to travel to West Campus and many are on foot and traveling a much longer distance, it is obvious that this path is not effective. Students are late regardless of whether they take the alternate route or wait for the train to pass.
The obvious and often suggested solution is to work with Union Pacific, the owner of the railroad, to schedule rail shipments around class times, or vice versa. According to Joe Arbona, the director of Southern Regional Public Affairs for Union Pacific, the company does schedule its shipments around passenger trains, and “special events coordinators are able to contact the response management division a few days before and they can handle (rescheduling).” It seems feasible that if trains can be scheduled around mass transit and special events, they can also be scheduled around regular events like class changes.
A major problem with this proposal is that Union Pacific is a private company that maintains its own equipment and receives no government funding. This means that every minute one of its trains would be waiting for a class change would be a minute that it is losing money. Since, to Arbona’s knowledge, A&M has no direct interaction with Union Pacific, it is highly presumptuous to believe that the company should comply with University demands.
Class attendance policy is usually set at the instructor’s discretion. When this policy results in unfair punishment, however, it is the job of the administration to rectify the situation. The simplest and most effective solution is making a universal policy on “train tardiness.” This way, students will complain less, administration and instructors would hear fewer grade protests and there would be little to no cost involved.

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