Safety walk is just public relations parade

Illustration by Rachel Dugo
Illustration by Rachel Dugo

“This is a terrible decision,” I think to myself. One of those decisions I’ll look back on later and wonder what I was thinking.

It’s dark — about 11:30 p.m. This seems to always be about the time I’m leaving the gym. I’m terrible at time management. The day seems to just slip away and I usually find myself walking out the door to go after 10 p.m.

The quickest route to the Wildcat Recreation Center from my apartment is down Nord Ave. I take a left onto the bike path so ingloriously known as the “rape trail,” take a right onto the path on the edge of campus that runs parallel to the train tracks and Yolo fields, and come out behind Langdon Hall.

Sometimes I walk. Lately, I’ve been riding my bike.

It has to be the most potentially dangerous place on campus; dimly lit, plenty of bushes for someone to hide in, far enough away that any shouts for help might fall on deaf ears. I’ve never been attacked or assaulted, but I feel very uneasy whenever I walk home on that route. Hence, the bike.

This is the kind of place that the Moonlight Safety Walk should aim to improve. Members of the student body, surrounding community, President Paul Zingg and the University Police walk around campus identifying unsafe areas that could use improvements in lighting, visibility, etc.

It’s great public relations. Chico State jumps at any chance to involve the community and make them hate students a little less. Zingg’s name is attached to it, giving it some initial credibility.

Unfortunately, it seems like PR is all the walk is good for.

The Moonlight Safety Walk has been an annual event for 10 years. Annual? The last time I checked, I’m here for two semesters each year. Wouldn’t it be prudent to inspect safety concerns more than once a year if it’s such a priority?

I find it hard to believe that the two biggest safety improvements to be made on campus are sufficient lighting and cut bushes. If there really needs to be a whole event to make sure the shrubs are trimmed, maybe time would be better spent investigating the school’s landscaping department.

Even Zingg seemed to be questioning the seriousness of the event. His comment about reducing shadows so people don’t trip had to have been tongue-in-cheek.

The walk doesn’t even necessarily have any direct impact on the campus. The results of the night walk are sent to the offices of Risk Management, Environmental Health and Safety and Facilities Management for review. So at the end of all this, those departments could just as well decide not to make any improvements.

If the success of the Moonlight Safety Walk is measured in street lamps, I’m sure there have been many new street lamps installed in the last 10 years. However, when there are places such as the bike path on the edge of campus that I’m sure are just as dangerous as they were 10 years ago, I’m left to question the purpose of this safety walk-turned-PR stunt.

Matt Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or @mattmurphy93 on Twitter.