Safety on campus was the priority of officials and Associated Students, Inc. on March 15 (ASI) as they went around to identify what students consider to be issues with safety.
After sunset, campus organizations witnessed firsthand what needs to be improved during an organized Campus Safety Night Walk.
“We went around campus last night and went to several different areas to see what are the dark areas around campus – what areas might need cameras and what places students may potentially be unsafe,” said Blake Zante, ASI executive vice president.
The idea for the project came after students voiced concerns on social media after a spike in crime hit the campus last semester. Many emails were sent to the campus community regarding car break-ins, an alleged serial groper and other incidents in which students were harmed.
The emails listed resources to help avoid being in an unsafe situation, but an in-depth review of the campus was still needed, organizers said.
“In December we decided to plan a safety night walk and we finally were able to coordinate with administration and campus police,” Zante said. “We wanted everybody to make sure that they also were there to know what areas needed help.”
ASI senate members, including Michael Nzambi, senator for parking and safety, attended on students’ behalf. Deborah Adishian-Astone, vice president for administration and associate vice president for auxiliary services from the president’s cabinet, was also there.
Representatives from different campus departments also participated in the safety walk. Plant operations was there, taking notes of what repairs or additions need to be made. Representatives of traffic operations and campus police also came and provided information based on past police reports.
Plant operations noted areas in need of new LED lighting or cameras, such as at the broken call boxes and locations where potential attackers could hide.
“They were constantly taking notes of the different things that were out of order, along with lights,” Zante said.
He noted the biggest issues they found on campus: The walkway from the North Gymnasium to the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Bulldog Lane lacks sufficient lighting for those that live in neighboring apartments. The brick walls that face the Cedar Avenue sidewalks have recessed areas where an attacker could hide.
“They’re looking at barring those up, and we pointed that out as a potential concern,” Zante said.
The next issue for students was the area between the Satellite Student Union and the Science I building where students travel in the dark.
“We noticed that there’s a made trail from students you can tell who’ve been cutting through, and it’s definitely not safe at night,” Zante said. “We really want to light that area up.”
It was suggested that a larger wall mount light be installed over the Science I Building so that area could be visible at night.
“It’s a really big dark area with a lot of bushes,” Zante said. “There’s a camera mounted on the building, but it’s so dark, it wasn’t going to be able to see anything.”
Another area identified as needing more lighting was the back rows of parking Lot P20, which are adjacent to the university vineyard.
“They’re also looking at installing new light fixtures out there in those back rows so that students can feel safe when they park out there,” Zante said.
Plant operations also has plans for alleviating parking issues for students who park far away from class in the dark. They plan to remove the metered parking spots in front of the Joyal Administration Building that are not in constant use and turn them into green parking spots.
Plant operations will be in charge of taking care of what needs to be fixed moving forward.
“They gave us an estimate of about eight to 10 weeks, which is kind of a long time, but at least it’s later rather than never,” Zante said. “It’s good that things are moving and happening.”
Those who attended the safety walk plan on doing more in the future if new issues come up.
“There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, but I’m really excited that things are moving and steps are being taken,” Zante said. “And that campus police and the administration are on board helping improve the safety around campus.”