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UNC re-examines night time lighting for safety

Vice Chancellors Winston Crisp and Matthew Fajack charged the Nighttime Travel Working Group at the beginning of September. The group includes student government, students, administrators and the chiefs of police for Chapel Hill and the Department of Public Safety.

Student Body Vice President Rachel Gogal, a member of the group, said it’s looking at how lighting on and off campus can be improved.

“We recognize that some areas on campus are very well lit, but others are not, and that’s a safety concern for us,” Gogal said.

To see where needs for lighting on and around campus are greatest, the group is going on a “lighting tour” in November. Group members will begin at UNC Hospitals and walk through campus and to off-campus neighborhoods populated by students.

DPS spokesperson Randy Young said his department has been going on annual lighting tours since the early 1990s.

He said the tours traditionally looked at areas that needed minor fixes, such as non-functional police call boxes or burned out lights, but this year’s tour involves more people and departments and may take on bigger projects.

“It’s very early in the process, but if there’s new lighting that needs to be put in, and needs that need to be met, we’ll certainly look into those,” Young said. “Hopefully, some great ideas will rise out of this, and those kinds of things are not out of the question.”

Daniel Salgado, SafeWalk program manager, said lighting on campus should be improved.

“Part of the reason why people use SafeWalk is because they feel that parts of campus aren’t well-lit, and that contributes a lot to people not feeling safe on campus,” he said.

Salgado said even SafeWalk employees don’t always feel at ease on campus at night.

“We’ve talked to a lot of our walkers, and some have expressed concerns in the past that even on campus at night, there are a lot of areas they feel uncomfortable walking by,” he said.

Gogal said even though services like the P2P and SafeWalk exist, students have expressed interest in more nighttime safety offerings.

“Off-campus students on campus late studying for exams and students without a car are concerned about their safety,” Gogal said.

“We wanted to make sure that we partnered with the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro to make sure that the transition from on campus to off campus — the streets and the pathways they’re walking — are well-lit and safe, especially if they’re coming back at 2 or 3 a.m.”

Junior Jessica Surane said she thinks evening campus security should be increased.

“SafeWalk is not enough,” Surane said. “There’s only two people standing out there, and depending on the time of year, it might not be sufficient.”

She said she thought lighting increases could help fill this void.

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