Walk highlights safety concerns

Students, faculty and administrative leaders came together to participate in the biannual Campus Safety Walk on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 8. The event allowed members of the Tech community to review the effectiveness of current security measures and identify immediate issues that could create dangerous conditions for students.

The participants assembled at Crecine Residence Hall plaza and proceeded to make their way from West to East Campus, following a route frequently taken by students. The event served as a forum for discussion as students and administrators were encouraged to voice any safety risks they observed and make suggestions for improvements.

“I’d say that this was the most successful walk we’ve had in recent semesters…we had a great turnout, and this positive collaboration is really important because there’s always a fine line when dealing with jurisdiction for safety measures in different areas of campus,” said Eran Mordel, Vice President of Campus Affairs.

Officers from the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) were in attendance, ready to answer questions and address strategies for improving crime prevention on campus. During the introduction, GTPD Deputy Chief of Police Robert Connolly discussed two new resource systems known as Smart911 and Rave Guardian. These mobile safety applications are expected to become available to Tech students later this year, providing campus police with information that will enable faster response to emergency situations.

Exterior lighting was a major topic of interest during the walk. With over 2,000 pole lights under the responsibility of Facilities Operations and Maintenance according to the 2006-2010 Utilities & Energy (U&E) Electrical Items Report, the walk keeps Facilities abreast of the need to install more lighting and trim trees that may be obstructing light posts around campus.

“These walk-arounds are very beneficial because many of the changes we’ve made in the past are a result of the problems we see out here,” said Warren Page, Director of Facilities Operations and Maintenance.

A significant change that was made as a result of the Campus Safety Walk was undertaken by U&E to install identification tags with phone numbers on light poles across campus. Calls reporting any inoperative lights will reach the U&E maintenance shop directly, who will respond to make the repairs. A computer system was also created in addition to monthly routine inspections, both which evaluate the timing, sensors and activation of exterior lighting.

Emergency blue light telephones were another improvement put in place for the protection of students. The area surrounding the Skiles Building was designated one of the most improved areas of campus in the past year, with greater visibility, lighting and the presence of these blue light emergency telephones. However, it was noted during the walk that signage may be needed to alert students to the location of emergency telephones at each dormitory on Techwood Dr.

“It’s important for students and administrators to be aware of places where safety is a concern, because administrators are the people making sure that our campus is safe and students are the ones who really experience it,” said Kevin Hopkins, a committee member for SGA Planning and Development and a third-year IE major.

SGA members, GTPD and the administration are emphasizing a culture change on campus, encouraging students to be mindful of the safety of other students and their property. This includes urging students to call the police if they witness a crime, to intervene if appropriate and communicate their concerns with other students.

Each Clery Safety Act includes a warning for students, encouraging them to avoid traveling alone and encouraging them to report any suspicious activity that is seen in or around campus. Students should travel in groups, and avoid dark areas without sufficient lighting.

“Students can improve overall safety on campus simply by talking to other students …it’s important they understand that they are also personally responsible for their safety and be prepared and aware of the risks,” said Kenneth Hughes, Committee Chair for SGA Planning and Development and fourth-year BC major.