Blue lights initiate campus safety debate

Jacklyn Pellegrino, Staff Writer

With 13 blue light emergency systems on the Mount Carmel campus, some Quinnipiac University students say the lack of blue lights is cause for concern.

Chief of Public Safety Tony Reyes said the “seldomly used” blue light emergency system provides services to students around campus for dangerous situations so students can have quick access to Public Safety.

Connor Lawless

According to records from Public Safety, there are 13 blue lights on the Mount Carmel campus. This includes six in North Lot, five in Hogan Lot, one in South Lot at the shuttle stop and one on the road enclosing the Pine Grove forest. In contrast, there are 14 blue lights at the York Hill campus, 18 at the York Hill parking garage, four at the North Haven campus, five in Whitney Lot and two on Mount Carmel Avenue.

Despite the amount of blue lights on campus, some students feel as if the systems are not visible enough in their daily routine.

“I don’t feel very safe with the amount of blue lights there are,” said Kate Hagen, a first-year health sciences major, “I know just from the walk from my classes to my dorm there aren’t any. It’s very rare that I see a blue light on campus. I wish I saw more.”

Reyes said that students can use the systems if they are in trouble or distressed, in case of a medical emergency or to report incidents such as criminal or suspicious activity.

“It’s an immediate access or a way to be able to contact (Public Safety) and it’s a visible light, it’s a blue light for a reason, it’s visible,” Reyes said. “So, it also serves as not just a service for the person using it, it serves as a deterrent for people that could potentially be looking to do criminal activity or commit some sort of a crime.”

The time Public Safety takes to respond when a blue light is used depends on the location and that public safety officers are available on all three Quinnipiac campuses, Reyes said. He said “there’s no real data” on response time.

“Let’s say it’s a very busy night and our officers were tied up, our dispatch would have the ability to dispatch local police department officers, whether in North Haven or Hamden so that there could be an immediate response,” Reyes said.

Given the lack of blue lights in certain areas on campus, some students said they are concerned for their safety.

Nicholas Bussiere, a junior graphic and interactive design major, said he sees fewer blue lights at Quinnipiac in comparison with other schools.

“One of my siblings goes to (Boston University) and anywhere you look you see a blue light,” Bussiere said. “When you’re on the Quad (at Quinnipiac), you do not see any- thing which I find is crazy. Obviously when you go to Village and stuff like that, there’s some that are on the building but often you don’t notice them.”

Reyes said that it’s difficult to compare campus to campus as there are too many variables. He said that other universities are much more populated, so there might be a need for more blue lights. But, the blue lights at Quinnipiac are strategically placed where students walk more.

“It depends on the location, the demand for it, the need for it,” Reyes said. “If we no- tice that there’s either a rise or an uptick, in particular crimes in certain areas that necessitates putting a blue light somewhere, we would do that.”

Chief of Public Safety Tony Reyes said the blue light emergency systems are ‘seldomly used’ by students. (Peyton McKenzie/Chronicle)

Sacred Heart University, 13 minutes away from Quinnipiac, is 311 acres and has 33 blue light call boxes. Quinnipiac, which is 234 acres, has 56 blue lights across all three campuses. Monique Drucker, vice president and dean of students, said that over the years, students have asked about the blue lights and the university has looked at where they are in the parking lots. But, the placement of the blue lights has been a decision between facilities and public safety.

“Most of the data that has been pulled from the blue lights showed that they haven’t been used very often at all from students,” Drucker said. “I think there’s definitely an interest from students to know that they are there and that they are available to them and that’s important for their sense of safety and security to our students.”

Bussiere said that the only time he has seen the blue light is in the North parking lot but other than that he feels like there are not many where a lot of people are.

However, some Quinnipiac students said that they feel safe on campus with the current blue light system.

Tommy Vangeldren, a first-year communications and media studies major, said that it’s not just the blue lights that help him feel safe on campus.

“I feel like it’s not exactly just the blue lights, it’s more just the campus in general,” Vangeldren said. “It’s a pretty safe feeling, I think it’s also because I’m a guy, I feel more safe.”

In a 2018 student survey by the University of Memphis’s student newspaper, The Daily Helmsman, male students stated they felt safer during nighttime on campus in comparison to females.

According to The Daily Helmsman, “Out of 113 men surveyed, 99 said they felt safe walking around campus at night, while 14 said they did not. Out of 113 women surveyed, 61 said they felt safe, while 52 said they did not feel safe.”

Grace Corfield, a first-year business undeclared major, said she has never had a rea- son to think that she’s not safe on campus.

“I don’t really pay attention to a lot of (blue lights) because they’re kind of spaced out, there’s not a lot of them from what I’ve noticed,” Corfield said. “I’ll drive around other campuses and they are definitely much more abundant, but I feel like (Quinnipiac is) a very safe campus overall somewhat or it at least feels that way.”

Corfield said she can locate “maybe two (blue lights) one by the bus stations and one near the College of Arts and Sciences.”

Any students with questions can contact Public Safety at 203-582-6200.