The University of Alabama, situated within the borders of Tuscaloosa, has 33,305 students attending on a campus that is 1,026 acres in size – whittled down from the original land grant set aside for the school that started at 46,000 acres in size.
Certainly, a campus with more than 33,000 students plus the necessary faculty and staff, is as large as many American cities – as large as Ithaca, New York, for example, with a population of 35,000.
It would stand to reason, therefore, that some sort of public transportation on campus alone would assist the Tuscaloosa campus community – and this is where golf carts come into play.
No, the school is not unleashing a herd of golf carts for anyone to use, but the school has come up with a coordinated effort that involved the help of Textron Specialized Vehicles and sponsorship from Wells Fargo Bank.
The program, launched on Nov. 9, is to provide golf cart transportation to disabled U.S. service corps personnel or former military personnel, to help them get from A to B and back again in as convenient a manner as possible.
One of the golf carts has been custom fit (conversions provided by Textron) as a four-passenger shuttle bus, while the other has been custom fit to accommodate wheel chairs, the school said in a press release. Both of the carts will be operated by the state’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs.
Even David Blair, the director of the on-campus branch of the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, noted the size of the campus creates a challenge for some. “The Tuscaloosa campus is quite large and it can be a challenge to get from building to building on a tight class schedule,” Blair said. “Especially when you have mobility issues.”
He hoped the program would help create a “positive, rewarding academic experience,” for disabled veterans on campus.
The official launch of the program was attended by officials from Wells Fargo, as well as David Grady, the Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Life at University of Alabama.
Also in attendance were several veterans in uniform and a rather incongruous, but affable enough elephant, or someone dressed like one, which is the mascot for the Crimson Tide, the nickname for their famous football team.
The elephant is named “Big Al.” He first appeared after a sports writer called the football team as effective as “red elephants.” The name Crimson Tide was also an expression first used by a sports writer, according to a Yahoo! Sports article.