Blue Light Special

main-art-new.jpgBy Jeff Frankel

The Lawrenceville campus has only three blue light phones, the Princeton campus has one, while The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) has 18, but plans are in the works to add more ways to keep the campus safe, said Vickie Weaver, director of Public Safety.

The existing blue light phones, in addition to the regular key pad, have a button that serves as a direct link to Public Safety, and a blue light on top to notify students where it is located.

Administrators note the Lawrenceville campus currently has other means to protect students’ safety.

Fifty-two phone call boxes are spread throughout the campus outside of all residence halls, Greek houses and most of the academic buildings. There are also more than 30 video cameras throughout the property that are constantly monitored by Public Safety.

“There was an increase in the number of call boxes installed on the exterior of residence halls and academic buildings,” said Weaver.

However, students may not know where the call boxes are located because they do not have the light attached.

“I know what the phones are but I never seen anyone use them,” said senior American Studies major Athena Calandra. “If you ask me to find one on this campus, I don’t think I can find any.”

An unsytematic sample of 15 call boxes by The Rider News found that only nine had the number to Public Safety written on them, and only five of those had a direct connect button.

Currently, the Princeton campus has one blue light but no security cameras. Plans are in the works to install a camera in the D-Lot, Weaver said.

But the Princeton campus only has one security guard on patrol per shift, said Princeton campus SGA President Christian Stuck.

“Unfortunately, it is not enough,” he said.

A blue light security phone used to be located between Sweigart and Memorial halls on the Lawrenceville campus, but it was taken down, said Facilities Director Mike Maconi.

“It was on a directional sign and the whole sign deteriorated,” he said.

A blue light security phone also used to be located close to Daly’s, but it was removed during renovation in the summer of 2003.

“It wasn’t planned, but when Daly’s was renovated, it was taken down,” said Dr. Anthony Campbell, dean of students.

Since losing the blue lights at Daly’s and Sweigart Hall, two of the current blue light phones were added as part of a “pilot program,” said Weaver. One is located on the front of University House facing the lake, and the other is located behind Poyda Hall, facing the parking lot.

The third current blue light phone is in the R-Lot. It is the only true, free-standing blue light that was not an add-on to the call boxes.

“The blue light phone can be seen from a distance,” Weaver said.

One area without any call boxes is located in the open space between the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) and Sweigart Hall. However, there are security cameras all over the Lawrenceville campus, including in the academic quad and between the BLC and Sweigart Hall that are watched from Public Safety.

There are call boxes on the outside of every academic building except Sweigart Hall, where one is located inside the building. However, the doors of all the classroom buildings are locked at night. There is also no way to call Public Safety from inside the academic quad.

While most of the call boxes have important phone numbers, like Public Safety, on their faceplates, some do not, said Weaver.

For example, to get help from the call box outside of Fine Arts, a student would have to have a security number memorized.

Campbell said the University plans to add blue lights to the phones that are on the outside of the buildings.

Over at TCNJ, the campus has 18 blue lights on “common walking paths” with heavy foot traffic, said Sgt. Michael Bell, of the TCNJ Police Department.

“It provides an extra measure of security,” he said. “The more I see, the more I would feel comfortable.”

“If you count the number of phones on campus, we have many more than 18,” said Campbell.

Members of the Lawrenceville SGA believe there should be more blue lights on campus.

“I’m a strong proponent of having visible blue lights everywhere on campus,” said Lawrenceville SGA Vice-President Nick Barbati.

Phones are more cost-effective than blue lights and have a greater coverage, said Campbell.

“Safety is the number one priority,” she said.

While Weaver does not want to “overwhelm the campus with blue lights,” the University is currently looking into installing solar-powered phones around campus, especially in the parking lots.

Solar-powered phones do not require cable to be run under the lots. Current estimates on the wireless phones run anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000.

“Otherwise, we would have to run wire under the parking lots,” she said.

In the meantime, administrators suggest having the number to Public Safety on student’s cell phones.

However, concerns about even knowing Public Safety’s number were also raised. Many many not know the extension, including visitors.

“A lot of students have cell phones, but how many people know the number for Public Safety?” said Barbati. “I would guess not a lot.”

Students should know that on the Lawrenceville campus, at call boxes, the emergency number is x. 7777. From cell phones, students should call (609) 896-7777.

The Princeton campus emergency number is (609) 921-8315.

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