Removing walking paths on campus is first step to improving student health

The University of Ottawa has been making strides in recent years to become more environmentally conscious, with everything from plastic water bottle bans to debates on divestment from fossil fuels. However, new research finds  that while the university has been reducing its carbon footprint, the students’ own footprints have been decreasing in recent years. Students have been found spending the majority of their time on campus sitting, whether in the library, study rooms, or the dining hall, with their nose buried in textbooks. This has led to the U of O administration looking to take new measures to get the student body active and moving again, especially as the warmer weather rolls around.

A recent meeting of the university’s Board of Governors has brought about the solution—designing ways to increase the walking distance between buildings on campus. According to U of O president Jacques Frémont, “forcing the students to spend more time walking to class will increase the amount of exercise they do as well.”

After noticing how much the new roundabout behind the Faculty of Social Science building is helping the students on their path to fitness, the university has decided to expand on the concept. The university has now prevented the students from taking “shortcuts” through buildings, by getting rid of many entrances to buildings, and removing indoor passageways connecting buildings. New construction plans propose only one door to get into every building, now located at the opposite end of the building as the original door.

Some students have found the proposed construction plans a refreshing and welcome change, noting that they will allow for more time spent moving, and less time sitting. “Even though it is incredibly hard to fit thousands of students into one door, I really do feel myself getting more fit with the added distance!” said Nodor Heer, a second-year English student.

With the positive reaction from students to this new decision, the university has announced several more design changes to come in the future. A spokesperson for campus facilities noted a decision to close off all of the walking pathways in between buildings on campus, which would result in students only being able to walk on the streets. Campus facilities also plans to remove the crossing lights in the middle of Laurier Ave. in front of Tabaret Hall to force the students to walk to Cumberland St. The university hopes that by implementing these new changes, students will get their recommended amount of daily exercise to improve their quality of health.

Frémont wrote in an email that the U of O hopes to continue to develop new strategies to make campus more conducive to students’ health, and so they are seeking input from students.