Clumsy on Cadaver

Jamie Archie

There is an issue on campus that’s affecting a large portion of students on a daily basis, and seemingly goes ignored. Some might even consider it life-threatening. We have a number of traditions and fascinating aspects of our school’s history that still stand today; but sometimes, improvements need to be made to ensure student safety. What I’m referring to is the impending doom that anyone crossing Cadaver Bridge experiences after it rains.

When Hurricane Florence hit, we thought it would be our demise. The school sent emails to prepare, warning students of flooding and immense rain, and even going so far as to cancel Young Alumni Weekend. Thankfully, we were wrong. But even though the brunt of the storm passed, its impact wasn’t over just yet. The rain continued, and with it, came danger.

The top layer of Cadaver Bridge was so immensely slippery that if anyone crossed, at least once along the bridge they slipped. The top layer seems to be painted over with some gravel immersed in the paint, an addition from last year to keep students from slipping. While I have noticed some parts of the bridge have a tad more friction than others, it could be improved upon.

It started slowly one day; I noticed my feet sliding just a tad more than usual. I kept walking. But then, I finally slipped. All 20 years of my life flashed before my eyes: my elementary school days, when I peaked in high school, getting into Washington and Lee and all the classes I’ve had since I’ve been here. This is it. This is how I go. “Tell my parents I love them!” I thought, bracing for the impact.

Suddenly, I opened my eyes. I’m alive. I pinch myself just to make sure. I look down at my feet and realize I didn’t even fall to the ground. Somehow, I kept my balance with my eyes closed. I look back up. I haven’t even crossed the halfway point…but going back is too far now. I take a deep breath and think, “here we go…”

That was an average day crossing the bridge for me after the storm. It was horrific, terrifying and life-changing. I attempted switching up my shoes: I wore flip flops, rain boots, running shoes and even loafers. Every shoe, I slipped.

Sometimes people fall to the ground, but most of the time they can catch themselves. During a crossing, the screams, gasps and exclamations can be heard across the whole bridge. I have seen a few instances of people comically slipping fully and throwing their belongs into the air almost as if they were in a cartoon. Thankfully, I have never seen someone injured; most are able to hop right back up on their feet after such a dramatic experience. But I am fearful that either this fall or when the rain picks up in the spring, that someone could be seriously injured.

The top layer of the bridge acts more like a slip n’ slide than a walkway, and the university should pick one or the other. I’d prefer the former, but I’ll leave this decision up to the school.