Organization evaluates campus safety

Some areas of campus — especially near the residence halls — aren’t as well lit as they should be, according to one student organization.

In an attempt to create a safer campus, Necessary Improvements to Transform our Environment (N.I.T.E.) completed its biannual safety walk around campus Wednesday evening and pointed out to administrators which parts of campus members felt were unsafe.

“We try to divide out in groups and find out where all the unsafe places on campus are — whether it be shrubs that are too high, a crack in the sidewalk, a light bulb that’s out or just a lack of lighting altogether,” said N.I.T.E. President Eileen Dabrowski.

Groups of seven to eight students covered eight sections of campus, making note of potentially dangerous areas. University Police Lt. Joe Anderson, Assistant Vice President of Public Safety Bruce Benson, Emergency Operations Manager Tom Cisco and Allied Barton Account Manager Mitch Crawford joined the groups to oversee the walk.

One team reported that the Andros Complex had dim lighting and that a couple of lights on the blue light emergency systems were out.

Pathways leading from parking lot 16, located on Fletcher Avenue across from the Andros Complex, were dark and hidden between trees, members said.

“When people are walking from their cars it could be really unsafe,” said sophomore education major Melanie Lamphere.

N.I.T.E. member Stephanie Ruiz said she thinks the basketball courts at the Lambda residence halls could use more illumination as long as it did not disturb students sleeping in the buildings.

 Many of the bicycle racks around the residence halls were also poorly lit. There is no lighting at the bicycle racks at the Kappa and Holly residence halls.

“Students could have a difficult time trying to put in their combination to unlock their bike,” said SG College of Education Sen. Kelly Budnick.

Senior public relations major Aly Sobo said the lighting around the residence halls felt like “mood lighting.”

“All the lights are very dim and almost like an orange glow,” Sobo said. “At the University of Tampa, all the streets and resident halls are very well lit. Their lights are very white and bright — it’s like daytime over there.”

In Greek Village, N.I.T.E. members said everything was very well lit and found all the blue light emergency systems working. The only area for concern was an unlit patch of woods in the middle of Greek Village.

“They need some sort of motion lighting out there — so at least it would conserve energy, but still keep students safe,” Budnick said.

Student Body Vice President Thomas King said he hopes the lighting issues in the residence hall areas are addressed.

“We hope to get lights working everywhere and probably some new lights in low-lit areas,” Ruiz said.

Benson will be going through the list of concerns prepared by N.I.T.E. and submitting them to Physical Plant, which will work on improvements.

“I like the fact that students take it upon themselves to do this kind of thing and make campus a little safer,” he said.

Benson said minor issues such as trimming shrubs and replacing light bulbs will be a quick and cheap fix, but more expensive issues — such as installing new lighting fixtures around campus  — will have to be prioritized.

“Somebody would have to do this if the students didn’t take it upon themselves — the students really do the best job,” he said.