By Sarah Carlson, Copy Editor
The ACU Police and Administrative Services made several additions to campus to improve students’ safety since last semester and encourage feedback from students about safety concerns, said Jimmy Ellison, ACU police chief.
The only safety trend Ellison said he has noticed this school year is an annual one: lack of driver safety.
“This year seems to be perhaps a little worse,” Ellison said. “It concerns me the speeds which drivers drive on the streets adjacent to campus.”
He said the traffic problems stem for the lack of yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks, three of which are on East North 16th Street and two are on Campus Court.
A crosswalk was installed on East North 16th Street across from Gardner Hall at the urging of the Students’ Association last year. Ellison went through the city of Abilene to install the crosswalk last semester, and said the city did surveys of traffic on East North 16th Street and found that not enough pedestrians cross the street to warrant the installation of an additional crosswalk in between Gardner and Sikes halls.
“I think it’s a common battle cry to say we need more crosswalks,” Ellison said, “but people are going to cross at places that are convenient to their destinations. It’s up to pedestrians. We have plenty of crosswalks, we just can’t get people to use them.”
Kevin Watson, associate vice president for administrative services, said in an e-mail that the city of Abilene will work on Campus Court this semester, repainting and clearly identifying where crossings are.
“Students should always be diligent when crossing streets or intersections,” Watson said. “Be slow to cross. Also, drivers need to be on the look out for pedestrians as we drive around campus, [and] take our time to watch out for them.”
Another main campus safety issue is lighting in and around campus, and a lighting survey is conducted every semester to evaluate areas of campus and determine if they are adequately lighted.
Ellison, Watson, Jack Rich, executive vice president, and Eddie McFadden, manager of building maintenance, make up the team of those who walk through and around campus at night every year for the survey. Watson said the university continually upgrades certain areas of campus, trimming back trees and making improvements on campus. The foliage of trees at different times of the year affects the lighting and visibility at night, Ellison said.
Pole lights in the mall area were replaced, Watson said, and more will be added, as funding is available.
A new light was also installed across from Gardner Hall this summer, and students are encouraged to point out parts of campus they think are problem areas when it comes to lack of lighting by contacting the police or physical resources, Ellison said.
Every fall, freshman and sophomore women are given safety whistles and are presented with a mandatory residence hall meeting about safety issues, and Ellison said the whistles are affective despite what people think.
“We don’t present them to people as a crime fighting tool,” Ellison said, “we present them as a reminder” to be safe.
He said that any group or organization that would like to have a crime prevention presentation or one on a different subject scheduled, they should feel free to contact the ACU Police. One topic that will be discussed this year in presentations is identity theft, a problem already on campus and “an epidemic across the nation,” Ellison said.
Overall, students are encouraged to pay attention to safety on campus, whether they be driving or walking around the perimeter, and to contact the police with feedback.
“There’s only 10 of us,” Ellison said. “We need everybody to do their part to keep the campus safe.”