Last night’s drizzle and cold weather didn’t stop about 200 students from searching in the dark for broken lights, tripping hazards and overgrown shrubs during the Spring Campus Safety Walk.
The bi-annual event, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by a variety of campus organizations and departments. Students break up into about 30 groups and scan different University zones for dangerous areas that could be improved, then they fill out questionnaires based on their observations.
Robert Burford, judicial affairs specialist for the Dean of Students Office, compiles a report from the questionnaires to give to UNM Physical Plant. He said Physical Plant employees prioritize the problems and fix what they can based on available funding.
Burford said one blue emergency phone costs about $10,000, not including installation.
Associated Students of UNM Sen. Nicole Griego, who led a group of students on the walk, said she is not sure about the emergency phones’ effectiveness.
“They make you feel safer,” she said. “But if someone’s really chasing you, I don’t really know how effective they are — if you’re really going to press the button or keep running.”
Burford said improving lighting is the main goal of the walk, though he likes for students to look for tripping hazards, overgrown shrubs and any other dangerous spots. He said he would eventually like people to be able to see a blue phone as they leave every building.
“This campus should be as lit as possible so people feel safe,” Burford said.
Student Terrance Gallegos, who is in UNM’s Omega Delta Phi fraternity, said the group he walked with found about 25 lights out around the Humanities building, Woodward Hall and Ortega Hall.
“I think good lighting helps prevent criminal elements,” he said.
Fraternities and sororities received points for having members attend the walk in conjunction with Greek Week, an annual fund-raiser competition between the Greek organizations. Gallegos said he probably wouldn’t have gone to the walk had it not been for the competition.
“I don’t think it’s my responsibility to be dealing with this stuff,” he said. “If they have to, they should hire people to check the lights. That’s what we pay tuition for.”
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ASUNM Sen. David Padilla said safety is always an important issue and that he would have liked to have seen more students outside of the Greek community attend the walk. He said he is wary at night when he walks from Mesa Vista Hall to catch the shuttle to the South Lot.
“I tend to look over my shoulder to notice my surroundings,” he said.
Padilla said the tennis courts by Johnson Field are dangerous because people cannot see what is behind the mesh walls at night. Lighting inside and around the courts would improve the area, he said.
ASUNM Sen. Steve Aguilar said he was happy with the turnout because students from student organizations such as the College Democrats; Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan, which is a national Latino community organization; ASUNM and the Residence Hall Association attended the event.
Aguilar said the fall Campus Safety Walk was just as successful even though it wasn’t during Greek Week. He said workers have already started pouring concrete to install four new emergency blue phones on campus that are a product of the last walk. He said flashing lights to indicate pedestrian traffic will soon be posted on University Boulevard between Central Avenue and Lomas Boulevard.