By Meghan Brink and Saba Mann | November 1, 2021
Tired of bearing the cold while on your way to class? Luckily, braving Albany’s autumn chill on campus will no longer be an issue, as the UAlbany tunnel system will fully reopen following Thanksgiving break and begin installing cameras while increasing connectivity, according to university officials.
In an effort to increase safety, the University is in the process of installing cameras while also looking to have fiber optics and cellular service in the tunnels. To do so, the University is proposing an increase in the technology fee from $682 to $844. It is the only fee increase being proposed.
“They were closed down because there were so few people on campus that we felt uncomfortable with people walking in the tunnels and being down in there without other people around. There’s safety in numbers,” said Todd Foreman, vice president of Finance and Administration at the Student Association meeting on Wednesday.
The underground tunnel system that runs under the university’s Academic Podium has long served as a place for students to escape the cold. In March 2020 numerous departments in the university decided that due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to exercise “an abundance of caution” it would be best to close tunnel access to students, according to Vice President of Finance and Administration Todd Foreman.
When students returned to campus for the 2020-2021 academic year, Foreman said that the tunnels remained locked, not due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, but because of the reduced number of students living while with many choosing to remain home while the university conducted remote learning in addition to the introduction of a project to install security cameras in the tunnels to increase student safety.
This semester, some students have been able to enter the tunnels through a few entrances that have reopened, however, many students have reported that normally accessible doors remain locked, forcing them to endure the increasingly lowering temperatures outside.
According to Foreman, the University has made the decision to reopen the tunnels. “Now, with a fully occupied campus and the weather turning colder, we are ready to do that,” he said to the ASP.