Blue lights illuminate safety issues

Illustration by Maria Salvador, Nov. 13, 2013
Illustration by Maria Salvador, Nov. 13, 2013

One should always feel safe walking through campus with the knowledge an emergency blue phone is near by, but they might as well not exist since most of them sit broken behind construction tape or under out of order signs.

These blue phones, also know as “blue lights,” are meant to provide a quick method to contact the campus Sheriff in case of an emergency and should be perfectly visible and accessible day and night.

Despite Roundup efforts to obtain an accurate count of blue phones on campus, Pierce administration was only able to give an approximate number between 26 and 28 which are sporadically placed throughout the campus and parking lots. Only six to 11 of the estimated number of phones is active and able to be used, according to Rolf Schleicher, vice president of administrative services.

Standalone emergency phones are becoming outdated and are slipping to the bottom of administration’s to-do list. The school is beginning to push for smartphone technology in to handle emergency communication, according to Schleicher.

Although there are now informational signs placed on non-functional emergency phones with a phone number to contact the campus sheriff, it does no good for students without a cell phone.

For example, there was a robbery last month in front of the Student Services Building where the student’s phone was stolen and there wasn’t an active emergency phone nearby for use.

Contrary to Schleicher’s comments confirming the current number of six active blue phones on campus, Pierce’s 2013 Faculty Handbook states there were 11 when the handbook was compiled.

Out of those 11, only five are located in or around the parking lots, which are one of the most poorly lit and vulnerable places for walkers on campus. The remaining six are located by the football stadium, swimming pool, the horticulture building and Agricultural Science building, leaving only two active phones anywhere near the Mall.

Administration was not able to comment on the location of the five phones that are no longer in working order since the compilation of the faculty handbook.

For the students that get to school before the sun rises and leave when it has already set, these blue lights are a reassurance of their safety.  But, this assurance has been stopped due to construction projects interfering with the underground wiring.

To repair the wiring is a huge endeavor labor wise and monetarily which is why plant facilities has been lagging according to Larry Kraus, associate vice president of administrative services.

The campus has been cut in half and inaccessible by construction for months leaving those parts of the campus with no emergency phones and therefore posing a higher threat to people walking by the site.

The phones currently blocked by construction should be relocated and fixed to insure campus safety. Although this would be a tedious process, it would be well worth it since these construction projects seem to be untouched and will most likely remain dormant for months to come.