UCSB will host its first annual Lighting & Safety walk this evening in an effort to gauge campus safety after nightfall.
The walk, which will begin outside Davidson Library at 5:15 p.m., was organized by the UC Police Dept., in conjunction with the Physical Facilities Dept., to identify areas of campus that may present safety concerns after dark due to insufficient lighting or poor landscaping. All students and community members are encouraged to attend.
“The walk will be going through central areas of campus where we have lots of traffic,” David McHale, associate director of energy and utilities for the Physical Facilities Dept., said. “The campus is basically utilized 24 hours a day, so we need to make sure that we present it in the best possible fashion.”
UCPD Sgt. Matt Bowman said student and community participation will be extremely important for the walk, so he hopes to see a large turnout.
“We’d really like to get the community’s perspective; we need to know their hopes and thoughts and fears so that we can address them,” Bowman said.
The issue of nighttime safety is particularly pertinent given that with budget cuts pushing classes later and later, many students stay on campus well into the evening.
Bowman said combining the efforts of the UCPD and the Physical Facilities Dept. will bring multiple perspectives to the table and hopefully help to reach solutions that appeal to both parties.
“This is an opportunity for the community to meet with law enforcement, which will be there to give our perspective on the safety aspects, as well as the physical facilities personnel, who will be installing new lights and handling landscaping,” Bowman said. “We’ll be able to have a direct dialogue between the community and the people who are responsible for the community.”
The idea of the walk has so far received positive feedback from the student body. Hadas Moalem, a first-year literature major, said she attends orchestra rehearsals until 9:30 p.m. and often has to walk home by herself.
“I always don’t look forward to walking all the way back to Manzanita at night because the lagoon is pretty poorly lit, especially a certain set of stairs by the Art Department,” Moalem said. “I just listen to my iPod and walk as fast as I can to my dorm.”
McHale said while the walk plans to address lighting concerns with student safety as its highest priority, officials will also be conscious of ways to improve energy efficiency.
“There’s a huge energy conservation push now,” McHale said. “We’re trying to balance energy conservation with individual safety.”
The walk was originally proposed by UCPD Chief Dustin Olson, who saw a similar program gain success at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he formerly worked for the police department.
“This really is a continual process that we hope will occur again next year, because the buildings can change, plants grow and lights don’t last forever,” Bowman said.