Quinnipiac shuts off half-dozen blue light systems for a week amid construction

Cat Murphy and Carleigh Beck

Some students are raising concerns again about campus safety after Quinnipiac University disabled six blue light systems on the Mount Carmel campus between Oct. 21, and Oct. 28. 

There are 56 total blue light phones located throughout Quinnipiac’s three campuses. However, the six disabled boxes in North Lot accounted for nearly half of the 13 blue light emergency systems located on Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel campus. 

Illustration by Sarah Hardiman

Chief of Public Safety Tony Reyes notified the Quinnipiac community via email on Oct. 21, that six blue light emergency systems located throughout North Lot would be out of service for an “indefinite” period of time due to construction. 

“My understanding is that they had to electrically disable certain boxes due to construction in the lot,” Reyes wrote in an email to the Chronicle on Oct. 23. “The affected boxes were all on the same grid.” 

Reyes later wrote to the Chronicle in an email Oct. 28, that the half-dozen disabled blue light phones had since been returned to service. 

Yale University, which is approximately a 10-mile drive from Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel campus, has a similarly sized campus and undergraduate student population in comparison to Quinnipiac. Although Yale is located within a city, there are more than 500 blue light systems on the university’s 261-acre New Haven campus, according to Yale’s website. 

Unlike Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel campus, which has one blue light per every 19 acres of land, Yale has one blue light per every half-acre of land. 

“Personally, I think it’s been an issue ever since I’ve gotten here,” said Kevin Barry, a junior health science studies major in the dual-degree physical therapy program. “There are several spots on campus where you look around and you just can’t see one.” 

Barry, who commutes to Mount Carmel campus, also expressed frustration with the location of blue lights around campus. 

“(Quinnipiac claims) that having them on the perimeter is somehow helpful,” Barry said. “I think integrating more within the campus itself would just be way more beneficial.” 

Reyes told the Chronicle that blue light emergency phones “are now considered by many in the industry to be outdated.” 

“Studies show they are rarely used because almost everyone now possesses a cell phone,” Reyes wrote. “We continue to use (blue lights) at QU because they serve as a visible deterrent, and they provide (an) extra layer of safety.” 

There is currently no initiative to permanently disable any of the blue lights on any of Quinnipiac’s campuses, Reyes said. 

However, he added that the emergency systems are “just one of the many strategies the university has implemented over the years to improve campus safety,” and directed students to download the RAVE Guardian mobile app. 

The app is “like having a Blue Light emergency call phone in the palm of your hand,” according to the Public Safety section of Quinnipiac’s Undergraduate Student Handbook. 

“Earlier this year, QU renewed their contract with the RAVE security platform and upgraded the platform to improve effectiveness and efficiency,” Reyes told the Chronicle. “It gives the user immediate and direct access to campus dispatch, 911, and local emergency responders.” 

Reyes wrote in the initial email on Oct. 21, to students that Public Safety officers would “maintain high visibility in the area” while the blue lights were electrically disabled.

 “The North lot is one of the most patrolled areas of the Mt. Carmel campus,” Reyes wrote to the Chronicle. “There is a security gate at the entrance of the lot that is staffed around the clock, and officers regularly patrol the lot and surrounding areas.”

Some students voiced frustration with the lack of operational blue lights but said that the increased presence of Public Safety officers in the affected parking lot mitigated some of their concerns.

“It definitely is a little bit concerning,” Barry said. “As long as they’re doing something to make up for that, then it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.”

Olivia Paleski, a junior 3+1 advertising and integrated communications major, agreed that the university took the proper safety precautions while the blue lights were electrically disabled.

“When I first read (the email), I thought that it was relatively unsafe,” Paleski said. “But just the other day, I saw a public safety vehicle around North Lot, so that kind of made it somewhat better.”

However, other students expressed concerns about the potential safety hazards posed by the disabled blue light systems.

“I haven’t used it myself, but I think it’s really nice to have that sense of security,” said Haley Castillo, a first-year 3+1 biochemistry major. “If you’re in certain areas, what if you need it and it’s not working?”