Annual Safety Walk highlights safety concerns on campus

The safety subcommittee of the Commission on the Status of Women recently made its annual walk around campus to identify areas hazardous to pedestrians after dark.

According to the Tech website, the mission of the Safety subcommittee is to assess the safety of females at TTU with an emphasis on lighting and phone access; to foster a climate free from any sexual, psychological, or emotional harassment.

During the Annual Safety Walk the members look for dark areas, tripping hazards, wheelchair accessibility, and areas that are unsafe for pedestrians about to cross or crossing the street.

After compiling the information the report is sent to the President’s Office and the Facilities and Business Services office, as well as any other administrators the committee feels is appropriate.

According to Colleen Hays, Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, after sending this report things start to change within a year.               

Jack Butler, Associate Vice President of Facilities and Business Services joined the walk this year.

“I was excited to be invited,” Butler said.  “I believe that anytime I can promote safety and be part of the larger community efforts it does a couple of things, one is that it re-enforces that the safety of everyone that comes to campus is critical and, as well, it promotes leadership from the top down.”

Hays said, “I think Mr. Butler is making a great effort to address our concerns.”

According to Hays, having Butler on the walk made a big difference and was very supportive.

Halee Young, junior French and History major, a member of the subcommittee was in the group with Butler and said he was very supportive and helpful, when comparing Tech’s safety concerns to other schools he has worked at, pointing out problems that would not pass at those schools and possible concerns that can prevent new issues from occurring. 

When Young pointed out a light and asked if it should be brighter, Butler taught her that the lights are on a bright/dim system so that people walking into the light can also see what is beyond the light.

This year’s main concern was lighting; whether there are not enough lights, lights are out or there needs to be light.  Other concerns were open windows on buildings people could get into, pedestrian safety because of bushes and trees that hide them and the lack of an illuminated walk/don’t walk sign at the intersection of Dixie Avenue and William L. Jones Boulevard, which is already in the process of being discussed with the city.  Sidewalk repairs because of tripping hazard or wheelchair safety. 

Butler said, “I don’t know that concerns are addressed more quickly but, when I walk around we have the opportunity to discuss what the concern is. This is important because, as an example, in lighting situations an area may be perceived as under lit  but, were the lighting in that area to be elevated it has the potential to decrease the ability to see anything outside the lit area.”

The Safety subcommittee also wrote and administered approximately 600 sexual harassment and assault surveys, two for students and one for faculty, staff and administrators.  Using these surveys they created and submitted reports to the President’s office to explain conclusions they drew from the results.

 Another project that the Safety subcommittee is currently doing is visiting other schools in Tennessee to see their programs and training requirements for students about sexual harassment, according to Mary Manneschmidt, sophomore French and International Business major.