Emergency blue lights need replacement

Illustration by Rachel Dugo
Illustration by Rachel Dugo

It was a dark and stormy night.

I’d just arrived at the north-campus parking lot after going to the immediate care clinic here in town. I had bronchitis and didn’t feel safe walking back to Whitney Hall alone on the poorly lit path.

So, I decided to do what everyone moving into the dorms was taught during safety orientation. I walked up to an emergency blue light phone to ask for a ride back to the dorms.

This was an utter waste of my time. I was completely embarrassed when the light started blinking and making noises, drawing everyone’s attention to my sick self, and the van that was supposed to pick me up drove past me like a ship in the night.

Needless to say, I was left to walk in the dark and cold, sicker than a dog and worried about that serial rapist that was still abducting girls from campus at the time.

This incident is why I think the campus has made a horrible choice by keeping its current emergency blue light phone system over installing a new and updated one.

Not only is the escort service completely unreliable, but our current system is just outdated all together.

Only a few of the blue light phones have cameras, and current University Police Chief Robyn Hearne has admitted that they require a lot of maintenance.

What this campus really needs is a cell phone app that all students must download upon enrollment.

I’m not talking about the blue light app that was mentioned as being a contender for replacing our campus’s current system. I looked into that app and found out that it wasn’t originally designed to service the Northern California area.

What this campus really needs is an app that’s designed for our campus specifically with our needs in mind.

For example, while the blue light phones are able to tell the police department where a student in distress is, a cell phone app would be able to pinpoint their exact location in real time, not just the phone they hit as they were running by.

Also, if a student uses an app, they can have direct contact with an officer while still trying to get away from a bad situation if needed, instead of being tied down to one place and staying in danger.

These are just two important things that the current emergency blue light phone system can’t deliver, which means that the police department needs update the system.

I’d hate for it to come down to the system only getting updated after it fails to protect a student when University Police could have fixed the issue by replacing it now.

Megan Mann can be reached at [email protected] and @meganisthemann on Twitter.