Tour Sheds Light on Potential Safety Issues and Forthcoming Improvements

Byline: by Laura B. Hans

Posted: January 17, 2012

On the foggy, drizzly evening of Tues, Dec. 6, Director of Physical Plant, Jack Kelly and Director of Residence Life, Sherri Sadowski held a lighting tour around the Wilson College campus.

The tour identified which areas of campus need additional lighting and where to install additional emergency call boxes to make sure students, faculty and staff feel safe. "Every year, students have issues where they walk. We don’t know specifically until we have the tour. Sometimes they take shortcuts and don’t use the designated walking areas," says Kelly.

The importance of students speaking up

"The lighting could be better, but its not like they don’t ask for student input. This was brought up at the last WCGA meeting. If people speak up, they are willing to do things for us. At the meeting, someone said that it’s really dark at night behind Lenfest," commented Rachael Kinley ‘13.

The tour began at Lenfest Commons. Kelly and Sadowski inspected almost every area of campus including: the Harry R. Brooks Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology, Lortz Hall, the Hankey Center, the Magill House, the Field House, the Fulton Farm, Penn Hall Equestrian Arena, Rosenkrans Hall, the Sharpe House, Lenfest Commons, all other residence halls and many other areas of campus.

Findings from the safety tour

During the tour, they found that the route across the twin bridges, down the driveway and towards the Penn Hall Equestrian Arena is completely unlit. This is a high traffic area as many students use this route to go to the stables and care for their horses, even at night. During the tour, one student was found walking alone. She suggested that lighting and a call box would make her feel safer. Another student addressed this issue as well. "If you walk to the barn, there is not any lighting," says Amanda Day ‘12.

Kelly would like to line the driveway with lights. He explained that the plan must first be approval by the VP of Finance and Administration, then the plan must be approved at the Cabinet level. "A lot of it depends on funding, which is always an issue, but the college always has intentions to try," says Kelly.

Another area for improvement, specifically for students walking to the Penn Hall Equestrian Arena, is the footbridge. According to the former Vice President of Finance, Jim Fisher, the estimated total cost for the bridge was about $123,000. The footbridge, which once connected the back of main campus to the Penn Hall Equestrian Center remains in need of repair. The structure initially broke in April of 2008. Kelly would like to create a bridge, which includes a handrail lined with lights. "The footbridge will happen soon. We are bidding for contractors. We want lighting on it and a railing. It is one of our top priorities right now."

During the tour, Kelly and Sadowski also mentioned areas in need of call boxes. The Field House, the Penn Hall Equestrian Arena, the Fulton Farm and the Sharpe House were some suggested areas for call boxes. "The call boxes are tested annually. They were upgraded recently to an LED light, not the blue lights any more. They are installed based on need, where there is a high concentration of students and where the highly traveled areas are," says Kelly.

Students make requests for additional safety precautions

During the tour, two students walking behind the tennis courts were questioned about the call boxes. "More call boxes in general would be nice. People do walk to the athletic fields at night, but not alone," one student said.

After the tour, Sadowski and Kelly will review the findings and implement improvements. "We will do our best to make sure the correct improvements are made. Ideally, we could have the lighting plan as an environmentally friendly plan. Our main objective is safety," says Kelly. When asked if he were open to using sustainable or solar lighting, he said he was and would be open to dialog concerning this.

What students can do to remain safe

"Talking general safety: remember to walk in pairs, let people know where you are going, and if you see something ‘creepy’ call security. They will investigate immediately. We want people to feel comfortable calling security. The community underestimates the power to report and we need people to report," says Sadowski.

Students are always able to utilize the escorting service on campus. The Department of Campus Safety, located in Lenfest Commons, provides this service. "I tell students that they should call 10-15 minutes before they need an escort as there is only one security guard on campus at a time." That is, during each shift, only one officer is on duty. The escort service is available by calling 717-262-2794.

Last Updated: March 5, 2012

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