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SA Urges University to Repair ‘Blue-Light’ Emergency Phones

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Concerns over campus safety led the Student Association senate to call on University at Albany officials to repair and better maintain emergency blue-light telephones across campus in an unanimously passed resolution on Nov. 15.

The resolution has roots dating back to Oct. 12, when Senator Logan Losito, who sponsored the bill alongside rules committee chairman Brandon Holdridge, noticed a blue-light with an “out of order” sign near the Campus Center.

Losito said that the same light has yet to be repaired as of Nov. 15, more than a month after his initial discovery.

“There can be blue-lights like this all over campus that are out of service and continue to be out of service for months at a time,” said Losito before explaining he discovered a second blue-light out of service on the downtown campus.

According to University Police Department’s daily crime logs, there have been 26 reports pertaining to equipment maintenance between Aug. 22 and Nov. 17, a decrease from 39 reports during the same period last year. The reports include broken blue-lights as well as other pieces of equipment.

It is unknown how many of these reports concern blue-light outages. It is also unknown if the other reports of equipment maintenance have been repaired.

There are more than 330 emergency blue-light phones spread throughout UAlbany’s three campuses, according to the university’s 2016 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report.

Both Losito and Holdridge said that university officials are aware of the broken blue-light phones because of the presence of “out of order” signs.

“If they didn’t know about it, those signs wouldn’t be there,” said Losito. “The fact that we propagate the idea that we have a blue-light no matter where you’re standing on campus, and then we don’t fix the blue-lights that we have is a serious concern.”

“The health and safety of our community as well as the blue-light phone system is a priority and the University has spent considerable effort to expand and maintain the system,” said the university in a joint statement with UPD.

According to the statement, which came in response to questions by the ASP, the university is aware of “several” broken blue-lights across campus and is in the process of making repairs.

The statement did not make clear how many blue-lights need repair or when these repairs will be complete, but it did say that emergency blue-light phones, like all electronic equipment, occasionally go out of service.

Blue-lights on campus are manually inspected to ensure they are functioning. However, the university is looking into an automated software system that will expedite this process.

“This new software would be huge benefit to the community in that it will provide for a much quicker identification of issues, which will help ensure repairs can be made more quickly,” said the university in a statement.

The university did not make clear when this new software is expected to be installed.

Tiffany Thomason, a journalism major, expressed concerns over blue-lights.

“What if you needed it [a blue-light] really bad and it didn’t work?” she said. “That’s terrifying.”

Both Cali and Thomason said they feel safe on campus, but believe the university should do a better job in maintain the emergency blue-light system.

“These lights can save lives,” said Holdridge, who called the resolution a “good first step” in addressing a serious issue.

UPD encourages anyone noticing an out-of-service phone to call them at 518-442-3131.

 

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Chad Arnold is a reporter for the Albany Student Press covering Student Association affairs. He is also an die-hard heavy metal fan.

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