What kind of phone bill is UPD running up?


Blue emergency light on main campus Photo credit: Alex Grant

Chico State spends roughly $138,000 a year in total on 81 emergency blue light phones throughout campus, which are often abused by drunk students.

There are 68 blue phones spread throughout the main campus, 12 phones at University Village and one phone at the University Farm. Each phone costs $1,700. This may seem like a high number to spend on something that is essentially a telephone, but compared to other colleges it’s surprisingly low. According to a Daily Iowan story, University of Vermont spends $400,000 to install all their phones.

According to University Police Lt. Corinne Beck, blue light phones are used in a couple of ways.

“They’re used for people who are waiting for a ride on our safety shuttle which operates from 6pm to midnight,” Beck said. “All of our pick up points for the safety shuttle are near a blue light phone in case somebody who is waiting for a ride encounters some kind of a situation where they need to notify police.”

After a year at Chico State, one may even say they don’t even notice the unusually shaped telephone lines. Although the blue blinking lights and large button do seem to be an ultimate test of temptation for intoxicated students.

“We’ll have field trips of kids coming through and they’ll hit the button,” Lt. Beck said. “And we do have drunk people who think it’s funny to hit the blue light and run.”

The misuse of the blue phones isn’t a big problem according to Lt. Beck.

“I wouldn’t call it a serious problem, I would say it happens more towards the beginning of the school year when people are new,” Lt. Beck said. “Officers definitely talk to them and say ‘Hey this is a waste of my time, what if somebody you cared about was having an emergency somewhere else on campus and we’re here because you know you’re playing with the phone.’”

While there isn’t a penalty for misusing a blue light phone, Lt. Beck says there are California penal codes for anyone who misuses a 9-1-1 system.

University police would take action if misuse became a reoccurring issue with one person.

“Generally we try to educate people, move them along, if it became a chronic problem though with a particular person,” Lt. Beck said, “we would not hesitate to use criminal sanctions or university based sanctions if the person was a student. I’ve been here for 13 years, I can’t recall it ever reaching that level.”

Alex Grant can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.