Student Senate and Campus Safety have been looking at the possibility of installing new lighting in certain locations on campus since fall term of this year. During fall term, representatives walked around campus in order to identify dark spots that could benefit from increased lighting.
“We saw that especially around the track area and over by Kappa – down by the southwestern portion of campus – there could be more lights,” Campus Life Chair and sophomore Victor Schultz said.
Schultz said that improving the lighting would result in a “greater sense of campus safety.”
“Students use the track or walk to the gym at night from the Quads and that area is particularly dark-looking,” he said.
Director of Campus Safety John Schlaf also mentioned those locations listed by Schultz, but considered several other areas to be lacking light exposure.
“That area by the track I think is always an area that could use some additional lighting. …That area around GDH and South Cherry Street, near the Old Jail, near the Auxiliary Gym. I think those areas have been identified as areas they would like to give some attention to. Also South Academy Street,” Schlaf said.
Schlaf said that the cost and the logistics involved in placing lighting in new locations could be obstacles in their installation, but that the administration has been receptive towards lighting needs in the past, and that cost has not posed a huge issue.
“I think the administration, current and past, have always been very responsive towards lighting needs, and personally I’ve never had any perception that cost was an issue,” he said. “It’s certainly one of the issues, but I think also there are things like just the logistics of being able to obtain power at a particular location.”
Another location that Schultz and Schlaf mentioned as being in need of increased lighting is Standish Park. While it is technically property of the City of Galesburg, its proximity to the college raises safety concerns.
“I personally believe that Standish Park is unusually dark, and my belief would be that there could be some increased lighting and increased exposure to that lighting. It might be necessary to trim up some of the trees. …We’ve mentioned that before, we’re going to continue to mention it to the city and that park would get more use and more enjoyment by everybody if lighting was improved. É Even though it’s off our campus, I’m going to continue to bring it up,” Schlaf said.
Schultz said that a concern with the increased lighting that has been brought up is the potential environmental damage coming from light pollution.
“There have been concerns about light pollution on campus, and another thing that is something that we could think about looking into is having covers for the lamps,” he said.
Director of Facilities Services Scott Maust noted that using solar-powered lighting has been an option suggested by students, but cited the cost as a potential obstacle in doing so.
“You’re looking at almost $3,700 per light,” Maust said. “I can buy pole lights with LEDs, our standard lights that we have on campus, for about $1,800 dollars apiece. So it’s about half.”
Maust said that while he would prefer taking the less expensive route, he is open to doing what students would like and understands the environmental concerns they have raised.
“If you are looking at a return on investment, I think it’s going to take a long time to pay them back, but I’m accepting of whatever the students want.”
Schlaf said that for him, student safety would always outweigh environmental or aesthetic concerns that may come out of increased lighting.
“From strictly the safety side, you are going to see persons in my position encouraging the lighting, but I understand that light pollution is a concern for many and there’s a delicate balance between the aesthetics and the safety side,” he said. “There’s going to be a tendency for me to always come down on the safety side.”
Schlaf said that no recent events have acted as impetus to look into increased lighting, but he keeps in mind the death of Knox student Tundun Lawani ‘13 in October 2012.
“I think that stays fresh in everybody’s mind because of the weight of that incident,” he said.
Schlaf said that after incidents on campus occur, Campus Safety tries to evaluate what could have been done differently to discourage these events, and that lighting is a part of that.
“What we always try to do is when an incident has taken place is go back and try to debrief on that incident and see what could have been done to discourage something similar happening in the future. That, quite frankly, has led to some lighting changes in the past. I think anytime something happens, we take a look at anything we could have done,” he said.
Maust emphasized his willingness to work with students regarding lighting to provide a safer campus environment.
“If there’s lighting concerns of the students, we want to address them. We really do,” Maust said.