Area governors hope to see more blue light stations installed at UMass

By Rachel Walman

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian
(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

Those traversing the University of Massachusetts campus have most likely seen blue light stations, which signal the location of emergency security systems and are potentially vital to those who need to use them.

These stations, which are equipped to reach first responders for assistance by simply pressing a button, aid campus police in pinpointing exact locations of a potential emergency on campus. They’re also designed to make campus a safer and more secure environment, no matter the location.

In the past few weeks, however, residential area governors have looked into how many blue light stations UMass has installed, mainly around the various dormitory complexes. Some believe the University needs to add more stations and make these blue lights more prominent.

“When I first started running for governor a bunch of the girls in my building that I talked to all said that they felt unsafe walking up the hill at night or around Orchard Hill,”  Tristan Laliberte, the Orchard Hill area governor and political science major, said.

“So when I asked them why, they said that there weren’t that many blue lights around Orchard Hill, [the lights] were on the door of a building or at the top of the hill and those were useless to them as they are walking up.”

Laliberte then further inspected the blue lights for himself and realized that the stations were indeed very far apart and that in certain places, none were visible at all.

“[You] wouldn’t know where to go unless you already knew where they were located,” he said.

To attempt to solve this issue, Laliberte signed up to interview with one of the finalists for the UMass Police Department’s Chief, Thomas Trawick, so that it could be brought to his attention even before he even secured the position.

“I was able to be a part of an interview with Chief Trawick,” Laliberte said.  “After the interview, as we walked back to the hotel, he made it a point to look for blue lights along the way and seemed concerned that there weren’t that many. At one point we stood under one to see if any others were visible from it and they were not.”

At a senate meeting in mid-October, Laliberte brought up the issue of the lack of blue lights and realized that other area governors also were having the same problem.

“We decided to each look into our areas and see what we each need to do individually before making a statement as a whole,” said Laliberte. “I plan on meeting with the executive board of Orchard Hill and go on a walk of our own to identify where lights should be placed here.”

Tyler Caldwell, the North residential area governor and a computer science major, had spoken with Laliberte about the blue light station concerns at the senate meeting. He had the opportunity to point out the scarcity of blue lights to the UMPD on Nov. 2, when the UMPD held the annual “Walk for Light,” a time for students and staff to determine safety-related issues on the campus.

“In North Area Government, we’re hoping to have a new blue light installed by Marks Meadow/Upper Lot 44,” said Caldwell. “Currently the closest blue light is on the other side of the parking lot, which is a long distance to have to go if you are in need of help.”

Laliberte said that this project was still in its’ early planning stages, but that area governors would be working to install more blue lights now that the issue has been raised.

“As governors the best thing we can do to get additional blue lights installed is to advocate for them,” Caldwell said.  “It’s a decision that’s entirely in the administration’s hands, and our job is to make sure they know we need some additional [help].”

Rachel Walman can be reached at [email protected]