Northwestern officials, ASG representatives evaluate campus lighting


Melody Song/The Daily Northwestern

Burgwell Howard, assistant vice president for student engagement, discusses on-campus lighting with administrators and Associated Student Government representatives.

Cat Zakrzewski, Assistant Campus Editor

Members of the Northwestern administration and Associated Student Government toured campus Monday night to address student concerns about campus lighting.

Representatives from ASG, Student Affairs, Facilities Management and Residential Life walked to sites students targeted in a campus safety survey that ASG distributed at the end of Spring Quarter. The On-Campus Light Walk occurs annually in early fall or late spring, when foliage is out and light obstructions caused by trees may be addressed.

“There seem to be fewer issues than last year,” said Burgwell Howard, assistant vice president for student engagement. “But there are still always improvements that can be made to make campus as safe as possible.”

The survey about campus lighting was distributed through the ASG email list and also sent to presidents of sororities within Panhellenic Association and several residential halls, said Alex Van Atta, ASG student life vice president.

Survey results reported 91 percent of responding students said they had “felt unsafe on campus due to inadequate lighting” and wrote in specific locations.

“That provided us with some really great feedback,” Van Atta said.

According to the report, 56 percent of students surveyed were South Campus residents. On the walking tour, Weinberg junior Jane Gilmore, ASG Panhellenic senator and member of the student life and community relations committee, pointed out several areas of concern.

Poor lighting on Emerson Street sidewalks near sorority houses, the sorority quads and the area surrounding Foster-Walker Complex were marked as needing more light.

Behind Kresge, Gilmore identified a pathway where visibility could easily be improved by cutting back tree branches. Participants also raised concerns about the lighting around University Library, an area of particular concern because students frequent it late at night. The walkers also addressed bicycle racks near the library and the area between Deering Library and University Hall.

The survey targeted the path between Norris University Center and Swift Hall. During the tour, Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, assistant vice president for student auxiliary services, suggested adding a security camera to the fire escape stairs behind the building.

As the tour moved to North Campus, Gilmore emphasized the need for more lighting on the dark pathway that leads to Bobb-McCulloch Hall and the basketball court behind the building.

While many on the tour commended the improvements made in the remodeled fraternity quad, the other fraternity quads will be an area of focus for the administration in the upcoming year, Payne-Kirchmeier said.

Howard demonstrated the potential for danger in the poorly-lit fraternity quad by jumping out of the bushes behind Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity in a humorous attempt to startle Payne-Kirchmeier.

On North Campus, the tour focused on areas that had been improved in the past year, such as the west sidewalk of Sheridan Road, where bushes had been cut following last year’s tour. However, students continued to target that area due to the lack of lighting near the tennis courts.

“We seem to be learning from year to year,” Howard said. “Last year, there were dozens of light bulbs out, and this year there have only been one or two.”

While the administration will attempt to improve the lighting in that area, Scott Hayworth, chief electrician of the Evanston campus, said that improvement will be a more long-term project because it may require budget requests and coordination through several University departments and the city.

Gilmore will compile a list of targeted areas from Monday’s tour and distribute it to University officials. ASG will hold its Off-Campus Light Walk on Tuesday with Evanston officials, including Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. Preparations for this year’s light tour also sparked ASG’s new initiative for an assessment of the campus blue-light telephone system, Van Atta said.

“As we walked around and looked at lighting, we realized that was the logical next step,” Van Atta said. “It’s just another way that we can improve campus safety.”