They don’t work. The two blue lights that sit on this campus, rusting and crumbling before our very eyes, are not functional. I’ll break it to you because the Department of Public Safety and the Hochberg Women’s Center won’t. To many, this comes as no surprise, as with a single solitary glance one could surmise that the foggy, blue, unlit light bulb sitting so solemnly atop the thick, rusty, black, metal pillar, laden among unkempt shrubbery and un-raked leaves, does not ignite Bryant’s twilight hours with its comforting glow. The large silver button affixed upon this pillar, intended for students’ use to summon the men and women of the Department of Public Safety within minutes, does not serve its function.
No, instead they are walked past, day in and day out, perceived as nothing more than an impractical deficiency of campus safety that should be long-forgotten and perpetually earthed in favor of more “practical” or “advanced” methods to keep the students of this campus safe. But those who think this way are severely misguided; blinded by the false presumption of blue lights’ archaism. On the contrary, blue lights are a campus necessity that have been, at the very least on this campus, cast into the proverbial void, and that is wrong.
But what is the problem with blue lights? Why has this campus’ administration so willfully and ardently ditched them? Well, the Hochberg Women’s Center and the Department of Public Safety think they’re a relic of the past, by their own admission. They believe that if a student on this campus is about to be raped or assaulted the blue light will do nothing. Once that silver button is pressed (assuming beyond all reasonable assumption that the student’s blue light of choice is actually functional) it will call officers to arrive on the scene too late to prevent the rape or assault from occurring. They believe that if a student is running from an assailant, pausing to press that button will do nothing, as that student will either be caught up to by their attacker or long-past the blue light once the officers arrive.
And, to be fair, upon initial thought, their argument has merit. Only, however, if you misinterpret the functionality of a blue light as profoundly as they do. I had hoped that the people whose job it is to comprehend the idiosyncrasies of campus safety would not lack exhibition of such abilities of comprehension, but if the two withering black pillars are indicative of anything it would be of this apparent lack.
It is a widely accepted assumption that everyone on this campus feels safe; that each and every student is at least rational and empathetic enough to not commit grievous acts of unwarranted, unprompted violence on other students. However, this institution is not in the business of group-think, and everyone is different.
Assault occurs on this campus. Students are attacked, students are hurt, and students are raped. If this is news to you, it shouldn’t be. Reality doesn’t end once you pass by the front gate of this institution. Students sometimes do not feel comfortable in certain parts of this campus. No matter how many lampposts are fixed or spotlights are installed, this campus, like any, can be a worrisome place.
So what are blue lights if not a drive-by rape alert button? They’re that source of comfort that many students long for. If a student ever feels even slightly suspicious and weary of his or her surroundings, a blue light is available to call the Department of Public Safety so that they may quickly provide a safe escort for that student to that student’s dorm or any other safe destination. That is their function. They aren’t meant to defend against rape, as certain members of Bryant’s administration seem to think. They are there so that students know that the officers who are sworn to keep them safe at all times are there for them at all times with the simple press of a button.
What would the Department of Public Safety have you do instead of having access to a blue light? What are these new aforementioned “practical” and “advanced” methods? Well, they would rather you call them on your phone. As opposed to pressing one button, you are now obliged to open your phone, go to the phone app, go to your keypad, and dial their ten-digit phone number that nobody even knows to begin with. What if you don’t have your phone on you? What if your phone is dead? What if you don’t know the number, as you probably don’t? Gee, it sure would be helpful if this campus had locations where pressing one button could do the same exact thing as pressing ten buttons.
And if they’re going to go ahead and fix the ones we currently have, why not install some more? On the University of Massachusetts, Amherst campus alone, there are over 110 functioning blue lights. That’s one blue light per 13 acres of their campus. Bryant has two blue lights that, if functional, would cover around 218 acres of campus respectively. When I visited the University of Rhode Island, I stood alone in their student parking lot in the early evening, and from the very point where I was standing I could easily make out seven blue lights. Standing in Lot C in the early evening, I see nothing but total darkness, broken up periodically by the eerie, orange glow of menacing lampposts. That does not seem comfortable or safe to me.
Imagine a young freshman student on this campus who is walking home late one night from a group meeting; an occurrence that is all too familiar for many Bryant students. The student begins to feel uncomfortable and remembers hearing about blue light safety on their tour. They happen upon a blue light and press the button. DPS officers’ appearance on the scene, what the student expects would take a matter of a minute or two, never occurs because what they didn’t know is that the blue lights don’t work. Their lack of comfortability turns out to be justified, and that student turns into a victim.
Fix the blue lights, Bryant. And if you’re not going to fix them, at least make it clear to the students so that the façade of safety doesn’t cost students their own.