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Oxford Needs Blue Lights on the Quad

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Walking around Emory’s Atlanta campus, you can’t go further than 200 feet without seeing the glow of an emergency blue light. These lights, distinct markers of campus safety, are notably absent at Oxford College. From the most central campus location, the quad, you need to squint to see a blue light in the distance.

The blue lights on campus are a system of emergency phones that function as an instant 911 call to an emergency dispatcher. When the red emergency button is pushed, the blue light on top of the structure flashes, alerting both police and other students that someone is in distress. The phone then immediately connects the person who pushed the button to the Emory Police Department, who already know the location of the call. The officer will ask what the emergency is and send the appropriate help, whether it be an officer or emergency medical services. In the case where someone hits the blue light and there is no response, police are dispatched in case the person who pushed the button is incapacitated or in danger.

Oxford College needs a working system of emergency blue lights across campus, specifically on the quad. The absence of blue lights in this area creates an unsafe atmosphere, and would provide students with a sense of security that we are currently lacking.

In a walk around the campus with members of the Student Government Association, Emory Police Department, Oxford administration, Oxford Sexual Assault Peer Advocates, ReVision, and members of the Public Health and Safety Committee, one officer recounted a story from the Atlanta campus where a student in distress ran throughout campus hitting the blue lights as she passed by. With the information provided through the push of a button, the police were able to locate the student and provide assistance.

Currently, there are six blue lights at Oxford College. They are located in the Haygood parking lot, Fleming Parking lot, Williams parking lot, outside of Elizer, on the outside of the old dining hall, and in front of Lils. Notably, there is no blue light on the quad. The quad is the epicenter of student life, and students need to cross the quad in order to get to and from the library, Phi Gamma, and the dorms. A blue light would provide an atmosphere of safety that is currently absent.

Conversations with members of ReVision have revealed that there are many students who do not feel safe on the quad at night. Even walking back from ReVision executive board meetings, which end around 11pm, many choose to walk back in groups rather than alone. The quad has areas that are darker and than others and nighttime shadows that make some students feel unsafe.

When walking back to Elizer one night, one student noted that you can’t see where the nearest blue light is from several spots on the quad. Even places where a blue light can be spotted, they are closer to the tennis courts or outside of Lil’s than the quad. While we joke about how we all need to get better at sprinting in case of an emergency, the joke rings close to the truth. In an actual emergency, a student would need to run for their life.

Blue lights are essential because they are more accessible than calling 911. A student in the midst of an allergy attack or being pursued by an assailant does not have time to pull out their phone and dial 911. Additionally, a phone call to 911 would connect the caller to Newton County dispatchers, who do not know Oxford’s campus, and the reality is that most students do not have the Emory Police’s phone number on speed dial. A blue light alerts a dispatcher to the student’s exact location, expediting the help the student needs.

In a medical emergency, the blue light provides a direct spot where EMS needs to meet the person who needs immediate medical attention. For a person with diabetes, or a life-threatening allergy to bees or different foods, a blue light can make the difference between life or death. Students need to count on the blue lights to be there when seconds count.

Blue lights not only intended to be used by a student in a dangerous situation, additionally, they can be an important resource for bystanders to use in order to alert the police or other emergency services. Blue lights can act as a deterrent to wrongdoing by signaling that crime is not tolerated at Oxford. While some students may not understand the need for blue lights, as they feel safe on campus at all times, others do not, and a public deterrent would help some to feel safer.

In order to address student concerns, ReVision has made it their goal this semester to alert the administration to the need for more blue lights. We want to emphasize that student safety needs to come before everything else. Yes, there are aesthetic considerations, yes, there are financial considerations, but ultimately, student safety is the priority. If even one Oxford student feels unsafe, it is our responsibility as a community to address their concerns. We deserve a campus where we feel protected. We deserve a campus where we feel secure.

Photo courtesy of Gratia Sullivan

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Oxford Needs Blue Lights on the Quad