Two years ago when I was part of student congress, I passed a bill to fix the lights on the Lunsford Trail. I had just gotten into running and became passionate about safety at night.
Concerns were raised to congress about the safety of students who had to walk home to Smith-Adams Hall about a quarter-mile from campus. Before Wildcat Stadium was built, a high percentage of lights were out, making certain parts of campus seem dangerous for students at night, especially around the Lunsford.
The Hunter Welcome Center is also pitch black at night. As we walked, we encountered a few people who avoided us, and vice versa. The inability to adequately see affects Lunsford users’ ability to understand how to approach someone or to be approached.
At every crosswalk we passed, we almost got hit by drivers not paying attention to the road. There is not enough lighting in place to help drivers see when pedestrians are crossing, especially at night.
The trail has only six emergency call towers, four of which are on the south side of campus.
ACUPD Police Chief Jimmy Ellison said the police department, facilities management and student life work closely together to conduct two light inspections per year – once in the summer with heavy foliage and once in the winter without.
“It is surprising how much difference the lighting effects can be with and without foliage,” Ellison said. “The tours help us identify areas of campus that perhaps could use more lighting or maybe redirected lighting, depending on trees, etc.”
The walk to Smith-Adams dorm, though lit on EN 16th, is completely dark with no lights on Avenue D, making it dangerous for students.
Of 10 emergency phones on campus, six are around the Lunsford trail. They were installed in 2006 when the trail was paved. Ellison said the other four were installed in the late 1990s.
“Usage has dropped considerably in the last 10 years or so, but the general public still likes to know that the phones are there if they need them,” Ellison said.
Campus safety must be a priority for the facilities management team – they were unavailable to comment.
To avoid becoming a school that is perceived as unsafe, ACU should invest more into lighting campus for students to feel safer on campus at night.
Ellison encouraged anyone with specific lighting concerns to email firstname.lastname@example.org.