Professors have variety of commutes to campus
Nathanial Paust, assistant professor of astronomy, has quite a long commute some days. Though he walks to the Whitman campus when he’s in town, he lives in Seattle on weekends, traveling back and forth between Seattle and Walla Walla once a week either by car or plane.
“My Monday morning drive to work is something like 270 miles. Or an hour on a Horizon plane,” he wrote in an e-mail.
The daily routines of professors, just like those of students and other working professionals, can have an impact on both the local community and the overall environment.
Associate Professor of English Irvin Hashimoto used to walk to Whitman. On that commute, he was once egged by a passerby in a car while walking to Whitman from his home at the time near North Hall. That walk taught him the dangers of walking down Isaacs Avenue.
“There [are] certain people who love to drive their cars into the gutter and spray you with water,” said Hashimoto.
Over ten years ago, Hashimoto moved to College Place to have more space and now commutes by car, which leads to no egging incidents.
“For some strange reason, I thought I wanted to have a garden. It was a mistake. Weeds own my garden,” he said.
Professor of Physics Kurt Hoffman currently walks to Whitman as well and shares some similar stories. During his morning commute, he says there is danger from drivers who are blinded by the rising sun. Night, however, is a different story.
“At night, I walk past the fraternities, and that carries with it its own excitement,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman and his wife selected their house, which is about a block and a half off campus, because of its proximity to the school.
“When we purchased a home, it was part of the equation: buy something close so we didn’t have to buy another car, because we had only a single vehicle at the time,” said Hoffman. His wife worked across town, and she needed that car to get to work.
Professor of English Roberta Davidson, however, drives to work.
“I usually drive even though I live only a few blocks away, largely because of the weight of my laptop and books I’m carrying. Sometimes I walk, though,” said Davidson. “I also often do grocery shopping, run errands after work, and that’s not really walking distance.”
However, she has not found commuting by car to be painless.
“The only challenge I face is that my car is so old and beat up that when I’m driving it around after dark I get pulled over by the police because I think they think I’m a gang member,” said Davidson.
Senior Ari Frink, the campus sustainability coordinator, is trying to promote carpooling as one way for faculty and staff, particularly those who do not live close to campus, to get to Whitman. He’s currently working with the Sustainability Advisory Committee to get several of the closest parking spaces in the Harper Joy Theatre parking lot designated as carpool-only. The definition of carpool would be two or more people and enforcement would be based on the honor system.
Frink believes that carpooling, besides having environmental benefits, could have social benefits for faculty and staff as well. He believes it provides time for carpoolers to get to know one another.
Frink, however, realizes that carpooling is not for everyone: some professors have children or other responsibilities and need the flexibility of driving themselves. Furthermore, the layout of Walla Walla is not particularly helpful for carpooling.
“Walla Walla doesn’t have a main freeway that makes carpooling convenient,” he said.
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