Scarcity of blue lights places students at risk

(Kim Bolduc I Concordiensis)

On college campuses nationwide, students have a false sense of security. Campuses are open to the public at all hours of the day, but not every visitor to the college is a citizen who abides by laws.

At most colleges, a major safety precaution is to have blue lights scattered across campus to help identify the exact location of a student when they are in distress. Here at Union, which is no exception in regards to safety, we have an inadequate amount of blue lights.

One way in which blue lights provide assistance is that Campus Safety is immediately alerted if you press the notification button of the blue light as you are fleeing from an attacker. Once you press one blue light, you should be able to quickly see another light within close proximity. This way, Campus Safety or the police can find you at a precise location.

However, the inadequate quantity of lights at Union makes this impossible. On Union’s campus there is a lack of blue lights near dorms, parking lots and Roger Hull Place. Even though the blue light system was created at a time before the cell phone was ubiquitous, the purpose of the blue light hasn’t changed. A blue light immediately notifies Campus Safety of the location of the caller.

Let’s face it, while it is possible that the phone number for Campus Safety is on most students’ phone contact lists, it will take time to find that contact on your phone. In addition, contacting Campus Safety via cell phone doesn’t give them your location. I think most people would agree that when you need assistance quickly, you want them to have more information on your location besides which cell tower you are near.

Another option Union could use to supplement our woefully inadequate quantity of blue lights is to set up a blue light system using students’ cell phones. It is my understanding that there are apps out there that, with one touch, can call Campus Safety.

These apps also provide both the student’s name and location, not just the nearest cell tower. Union could look into the apps that are currently available and make the necessary arrangements for the app to be available to students.

While this does not address the fact that a student can find himself or herself without the use of a cellphone — since people sometimes drop cell phones while fleeing, cell phone batteries run out, they are forgetten at home, they break, etc. — it does provide some measure of blue light safety.

A blue light is unmistakable and reliable. During an emergency, a student shouldn’t be responsible for finding a way to contact emergency services—the campus should be supplying a way.

A Campus Safety alert from 2010 clearly states, “Use the blue light telephones for reporting emergencies,” however the scarcity of blue lights makes that difficult.

A student should be able to see a blue light close by even if they don’t match the architecture and beauty of the other campus buildings. Alternatively, a blue light app should be provided by the school. Easily accessible blue lights provide both safety and security.



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