Letter to the Editor: Save the ‘Blue Lights’

Ava Tryon, Letter Author

The fall semester has begun.

Leaves crinkling under the eager footsteps of students on their way to classes. The sun dipping behind the horizon earlier than normal. Chattering students walking back to their dorms after a campus event.

Students should feel safe on campus. They should feel safe walking to their classes during the day and to their dorms or simply around campus at night.

The first six weeks at the beginning of the school year is when a disproportionate number of campus sexual assaults take place, known as the “red zone.” There are many events and programs organized every fall semester to bring awareness to and prevent sexual violence.

One thing on campus that makes me feel safe, especially during these first six weeks, is the Blue Lights. The Blue Lights are emergency telephones stationed throughout campus that connect students, staff, and faculty to the police department with a push of a button. However, the university has made it aware to the Oshkosh Student Association that there is a discussion to phase out the units due to expenses and minimal use of serious emergencies. I am the Women’s Advocacy Senator on campus for OSA and I feel that this is a huge disrespect to the concern for the safety of students, especially women, on campus.

To justify this, OSA passed the resolution that I wrote last spring which created a call to action.

The university has come up with an alternative option, a “Mobile Blue Lights” on the UWO Mobile App, which acts in a similar manner to contact campus police in an emergency. However, many students agree that this is not enough to ensure campus safety. Some students don’t have the resources to own a phone, which violates inclusivity to student safety for everyone. While the students on OSA believe that this is a great addition, it should not and cannot be in replacement of a physical presence of student safety.

An internal survey was sent out in the past year to students asking their opinions on the Blue Lights. Around 89 out of the 117 comments argued against the Mobile Blue Lights, making comments such as “what if the victim doesn’t have a phone on them,” or “it’s nice knowing there is another option for me in case my phone dies.” One student even commented “As a female who takes all night classes and has to walk to my car in the dark afterward, I already feel very unsafe during that walk. Taking away the blue lights would only increase that fear.

Please don’t take away the blue lights for the safety of all students.”

When asked “As the lights break, the university will not be repairing the Blue Lights due to cost. Instead, they will be using the UWO Mobile app for emergencies. How do you feel about the university not having Blue Lights anymore?” 14% responded “I like this idea,” 63% responded “I would like the Blue Lights to stay,” and 21% responded “I don’t have an opinion.

Many students on campus want the Blue Lights to stay, and their voices should be heard.