There’s a “culture of walking and texting” on the Utah Valley University campus, according to conversations with students, but that’s not the main reason Matt Bambrough, the creative director at UVU, came up with an idea to paint a “texting lane” on a staircase leading up to the brand-new Student and Wellness Center. According to Bambrough, it’s first and foremost a design project—the texting lane was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the college-wide epidemic of kids walking around with their faces buried in their iPhones.
“You have 18-24 year olds walking down the hall with smartphones, you’re almost bound to run into someone somewhere; it’s something we’re dealing with in this day and age,” Bambrough told Fusion. “But (preventing collisions) isn’t the reason we did it—we did it to engage the students. It’s meant to be there for people to look at and enjoy.”
Still, when talking to a few Utah Valley students, it sounds like texting and walking can be quite the annoyance.
According to Kenzie Jones, a sports editor at the UVU Review (Utah Valley’s student newspaper), the entire Orem, Utah campus can be traversed while remaining indoors. This is useful in the winter, when the weather’s routinely below freezing—unfortunately, texters and walkers clog up the indoor hallways, rendering it difficult for students to get to class on time. “People just walk slowly with phones in front of their faces,” Jones told Fusion.
Jones said she once saw a student holding a trombone almost crash into a walker/texter, sending the trombone carrier stumbling backwards.
Robbie Poffenberger, an assistant news editor at the UVU Review, said that most collisions he witnesses aren’t human-on-human; rather, it’s generally human-on-inanimate-object.
“They walk into barriers—chairs on the side of the hallway, or railings,” Poffenberger said. “I’m sure they’re fairly embarrassed.”
Poffenberger admits he’s not innocent—”I’m not perfect,” he says—and neither is Brambrough, who says he hopes reduced texting-and-walking is a side effect of the art project, though he’s not hopeful.
“It’s the nature of the world we live in,” Bambrough said. “I’ve texted and walked before; it’s not against the law.”