April 2, 2001

Students Find Spots in Need of New Lights

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In an effort to boost campus safety, several Cornell students and staff members have been working together to improve lighting around the University.

The project began last fall when members of the Ujamaa Residential College work-study program and the Black Women’s Support Network responded to the bias-related incidents that occurred on campus last semester. The students surveyed many geographical areas on campus and determined which were not adequately lit.

They also questioned many students about places on campus where they felt unsafe.

The group then compiled a report of its findings and submitted it to Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services, who brought the report to the attention of several faculty members.

“I think it was the specific examples of areas that needed lighting improved that we cited that really got people’s attention,” said La’Toya Latney ’03, administrative assistant for the Ujamaa work-study program.

Jeff Lallas, project manager; Dale Walter, general manager of facility operations for Campus Life; LeNorman Strong, assistant vice president for student and academic services; Don King, director of community development for Campus Life, and Cornell Police teamed up with the concerned students to locate and correct these poorly lit areas around campus.

The group of students and staff toured the reportedly-unsafe areas on several occasions between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. They decided what needed to be remedied in each area to improve the quality of lighting.

“Most of the lights we surveyed only required minor repairs and maintenance, like a burnt-out bulb or shrubbery growing over a light. Those repairs were made quickly,” Lallas said.

However, the group determined that certain locations, such as the footbridge behind the Noyes Lodge language laboratory on North Campus, needed a light fixture or a Blue Light installed. Construction of the new lights is scheduled to begin this summer.

“I think that we are going to generate awareness of campus safety and make people feel better. People need to be aware of their safety and play a part in maintaining it,” Walter said.

Another project currently in the works involves the re-lighting of Tower Road between Garden Avenue and Judd Falls Road, which requires a new design and installation of new electric lights and lamps.

In addition to nightly campus tours as a preventative measure, residence life and maintenance employees have been instructed to be more conscientious of safety threats, specifically lighting problems around campus, and report any findings to the nearest service center.

“Campus Life has continued efforts to educate staff about campus safety issues and has continued utilization of the Bias Incident Response Program to provide a vehicle for follow-up and resolution of matters of concern to students,” Strong said.

In order to ensure that the community continues to pay attention to safety issues on campus, King, Lallas and Walter plan to meet with the Residence Hall Association and the Student Assembly’s Residence and Community Life committee each semester next year. They plan to conduct similar night walking tours and repair any damages before a problem occurs.

“Proper lighting is important in making people feel safe and we want our approach to be more proactive. We all need to take precautionary measures, including students,” King said.

Many students, such as Ujamaa work-study participant Carl Jones ’03, plan to remain committed to the project and hope to do more to improve campus lighting in the future.

“Any small change in safety is effective even if it only helps one person,” Jones said.

The University began to implement better lighting last November when two temporary light fixtures were installed on the footbridge between Collegetown and campus in response to the armed robbery that occurred.

Archived article by Lauren Haber