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Survey highlights campus safety concerns

Results stress importance of lighting, downplay blue light phones

While most people feel safe on Ohio University’s campus during the day, adequate lighting at night is still a top concern according to a recent campus safety perception survey.

More than 1,300 faculty, staff and students on the Athens campus responded last month to the Presidential Advisory Council for Campus Safety’s survey, which the council designed to gauge the campus community’s opinions regarding safety issues at the university.

Of those respondents, 94.6 percent feel safe on campus during the day. However, only 49.8 percent feel the same at night, a statistic that is reinforced by the 326 respondents that made lighting the university’s biggest safety issue, followed by personal behavior (218) and assaults (215).  

Joe Adams, director of Environmental Health and Safety, said the university is working to address these concerns by drafting university-wide lighting guidelines, which he expects will be completed within the next six months. These will include lighting guidelines for all new and remodeled buildings as well as recommended lighting levels for current buildings, parking lots and walkways on campus.

Adams stressed that this is a wide-ranging issue that cannot be remedied overnight.     
"We can't go back and instantly fix everything, but we want to say from here forward we are going to try to make things right," he said.

Among other significant findings, the survey revealed that opinions on the importance of blue light emergency phones on campus are decidedly mixed. Only 36.7 percent of respondents agree that they feel safe knowing there are blue light phones on campus, and just 1.5 percent claim to have used one in an actual emergency. In addition, almost all respondents (89 percent) indicated that they always carry a cell phone.   

"To a certain extent, the cell phones have replaced the blue light phones in terms of campus safety," Adams said. "It is probably nice to have them there, but they are not seen as a cure-all."

Based on these findings, PACCS will likely adopt a policy of evaluating the usefulness of individual phones when they break down. This would help determine which ones are necessary and which ones are not before dedicating resources to repairs. However, according to Adams, PACCS will further analyze the survey responses before making any formal campus safety recommendations to the president.   

To read the survey results, visit www.ohio.edu/ehs/.