These are all things that can prey on the imagination of anyone walking in the dark. But thanks to Wednesday night's lighting tour, walking through UNC's campus at night might be a bit safer.
The lighting tour, conducted twice a year, enables students, staff and officials to inspect campus lighting and take part in determining where lighting needs improvement to increase campus safety and reduce hiding areas. Participants can see how and where yearly changes in vegetation or newly erected structures have affected lighting, as well as see the impact of previous changes.
Pat Andrews, manager of UNC Electrical Systems, said the department, while working with public safety and groundskeeping, maintains campus lighting on a daily basis. "The tours are just concentrated efforts," he said. "It's an ongoing thing." He said Wednesday's tour was more ambitious and longer than previous ones because it focused on the construction sites of South Campus.
The tour, about two miles long, began at the steps of South Building, wound through the lighting corridors of Phillips Hall and the Bell Tower parking lot to the construction sites of South Campus. From there, the tour progressed down Ridge Road, around the School of Law and back to South Building.
In addition to marking defunct lamps, officials noted possible improvement in the areas behind Chase Hall and the parking lot next to the Morrison Residence Hall construction site. Within two weeks, the recommendations made from the tour will be compiled into a report that officials at UNC Electric Systems will use as a plan of action.
Andrews was surprised at the minimal amount of problems discovered, despite the construction.
Jerry Lloyd, operations manager of UNC Electrical Systems, said he encourages students to join in the effort to maintain campus lighting by reporting problems. He also said officials must balance between effective illumination for safety and generating too much light pollution. "We don't put lights up for the sake of putting lights up," he said. Officials keep certain areas unlit to discourage people from walking in unsafe places.
Student Body President Justin Young and two of his Cabinet members, brothers Scott and Russ Jones, also participated in the tour. Russ said more focus should be placed on informing students of the lighted walkways to prevent them from taking dangerous shortcuts.
Young said he feels the present campus lighting was adequate but would recommend increasing similar lighting tours within the next few years because of continuing construction and the implementation of the Master Plan. Young also said he hopes to make students more aware of the different safety options.