Before the end of January, campus police and SGA will have a safety walk to identify areas on campus that may need additional lighting to help people feel safe and comfortable at night.
When increasing nighttime lighting, a conflict always arises between safety and aesthetics.
According to Gene McAbee, director of university police, some people on Western’s campus would like to view the stars in the evening. Others would like to have a nighttime campus that looks like day.
“We have to try to achieve a balance that is both pleasing to the eye and that discourages criminal activity,” McAbee said. “While Western has one of the better-lit campuses in the state, there are some shadowy areas where improvements could be made.”
One such area is the commuter lot at Belk and Belk Drive. Over the past few years, pedestrian traffic in the area has increased. Recommendations are already in place for increased lighting in that area. The cost for increasing the lighting on campus is substantial. Over the past ten years, Western has spent $160,000 for additional lighting on campus. Nonetheless, many people have expressed a need for more lights.
“When recommendations for increased lighting or safety and security improvements come from the police department and students, staff, and faculty, they are difficult to ignore,” said McAbee.
Students, staff, faculty and those who frequent Western’s campus are encouraged to participate in the safety walk. It is an opportunity for people to identify areas on campus where they do not feel comfortable and to suggest where lighting should be placed.
Participants in the walk will meet at a central location, which has yet to be determined, and from there will split into groups to examine different areas of campus and determine in which areas students may feel unsafe at night.
Once the areas that need additional lighting are identified and the resulting projects are prioritized, the information will be put into next year’s budget request.