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Nightwalk uncovers lighting, phone problems

By Susan Walley
Staff Writer

The SGA student issues committee conducted the first campus nightwalk of the 2007-2008 school year on Sept. 26.

During the nightwalk, SGA members toured the campus with members of the physical plant to note areas of safety concern while checking that all lighting and emergency phones throughout campus are in working condition.

The nightwalk demonstrated that the campus is in need not only of more lighting, but especially of improved emergency phones.

The nightwalk report indicated several emergency phones were not functioning properly, including the new light located by Oak Hall, as well as several of the lights surrounding the area of the football field and field house.

For those phones which did function, response times from the police varied between 20 to 70 seconds.

Police Chief McDuffie Cummings Jr. explained that many of the problems with the emergency phones on campus are that they rely only on one phone line.

Several lights tested during the nightwalk were unable to call campus police, and produced only a busy signal making it seem as though it was not working.

The problem, Cummings explained, is that the system cannot handle more than one emergency call at a time.

Long response times are caused when no officer is available inside the office to answer the call, causing the call to be transferred to the officer’s radio.

Cummings demonstrated this process, asking that an officer activate the emergency phone in lot 21.

Once the call came into the office it rang four times, and by the time the call came through to his radio an additional 30-35 seconds had passed.

“That system does not work well… when you push that button you want an immediate response,” said Dr. Tom Corti, assistant vice chancellor for Student Development, who participated in the nightwalk.

“After the fiasco that night, some serious questions need to be asked,” he said, referring to the emergency phones.
Senator Tim Sampson agrees with Corti.

“We need a lot of work done on campus as far as how fast police respond to our emergency calls,” said Sen. Sampson after the nightwalk.

Campus police, however, are limited in how fast they can respond with the current system.

Chief Cummings has already met with a vendor regarding a wireless call box system, which would allow police to respond to calls faster.

This system, he explained, would transmit calls immediately to officer radios rather than depending on phone lines.

He stressed, though, that there are still issues facing installing a new system, and it is too early to know what will happen.

The issues facing the installment of a new system are mainly cost, reliability and compatibility with the campus’ existing radio system, Corti said.

The cost, he said, will be high considering that not only do the current phones need to be replaced, but additional phones need to be added to the campus.

“You should be able to stand anywhere on a college campus and in a 360 look around see one blue pole,” Corti said.

Lighting issues were also of concern during the nightwalk.

Students pointed out areas surrounding the Jones Athletic center and the new UC Annex as specific trouble areas.

They also suggested overall that lighting be added to building rooftops.

The BA Building and Education center have this kind of lighting.

SGA members say that the added lighting would solve many lighting issues.

“We don’t need so much architectural lighting. We need safety lighting,” said Sen. Lyndsey Daniels in reference to the Chinese hat lights around the Mary Livermore library and Old Main.

The rooftop lighting suggestion was made in previous nightwalk reports to physical plant in March and April as well, but as yet no solution has been implemented.

The physical plant reported that they are currently in the process of developing a weekly night lighting check as well as a bi-monthly check on all light timers.

The SGA plans on conducting a nightwalk on a monthly basis, according to student issues chair Hannah Simpson.

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Updated: Monday, November 5, 2007
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