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Blue Light Boxes on Campus

When walking across a college campus, you may expect to encounter tall poles equipped with buttons that provide quick access to emergency services. These devices are commonly referred to as 'blue light boxes' by Google. They allow you to have immediate contact with emergency services with just the press of a button. Al White, the Chief of Police, emphasizes that "Blue Lights are there for you to call Campus Police for any service, not just emergencies." One of their significant advantages is that when activated, the police can pinpoint your exact location.

North Carolina State University, located just down the street, has a comprehensive network of these blue light boxes. Meredith College, on the other hand, has four of them. According to White, "There is one located on every side of campus, specifically in front of the Oaks Apartments, Commuter Lot 6, at the rear of Lot 12 on N. Campus Drive, and in Residential Parking Lot 15." Some students, however, are seeking more of these devices to enhance safety during times of need.

Chamari Mitchell, Dynah Keit, Michelle Ogedegee, and an anonymous student, who are all members of the Class of 2027, have expressed their difficulty in finding one of these emergency light poles on campus. They unanimously agree that having more blue light boxes placed throughout campus, especially at night, would make them "feel safer and more comfortable." This group of students was also unaware of the existence of these devices on Meredith Campus until now. According to White, students are informed about these blue lights "during orientation," along with other ways to "maintain personal safety."

So, why doesn't Meredith College make more extensive use of these devices? According to White, "there are better alternatives on the market than blue light boxes." Campus security explains that they diligently search for tools and materials to enhance student safety by evaluating various technologies and consulting with other college campuses to identify what works best for them. White says, "It is a good idea to increase and strategically utilize resources on campus." He also points out that, in cases where your cell phone is dead, these blue light boxes are there to assist students.

NC State uses blue light boxes as a critical component of its campus safety and security. These blue light boxes are placed in high traffic areas and use a blue light map so that students can easily find one nearby when in need. According to College Factual, in 2019, NC state has about 20.03 crime/safety incidents per 1000 students, about 64% of that being disciplinary actions and the other 36% being arrests for possession, violence against women, and other major crimes. According to this same website, in 2019, Meredith had about 26.52 incidents per 1000 students. This website reports that Meredith College has similar statistics with about 65% being disciplinary actions and the other 35% being regarding other crimes.

It is evident that the blue light boxes, or potentially another safety technique we have implemented is working as Salem College, another private, all girls institution located in North Carolina has about 46.5 incidents per 1000 students in 2019 according to College Factual. With a quick look at their public safety page, it appears that they do not utilize blue light boxes and rather rely on 24/7 patrol. Nonetheless, there are many other factors which influence these statistics such as location, class-size, and economic conditions.

In the end, these statistics suggest a starting point for understanding the safety landscape of these institutions.

By: Miriya Carson, Contributing Writer

Photo by Shae-Lynn Henderson, EIC



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