Campus safety, economy would benefit from increased lighting

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The K-State campus can be downright creepy
at night.

The sidewalks are dark with infrequent lights illuminating little but the
gloom. Every time I hear the bushes rustle in the shadows, my heart begins to
pound. I clutch my keys in preparation to defend myself against the serial murderer
about to pop out. Fortunately for me, so far it’s only been a squirrel or a bird.


I play it safe. I try to walk with someone else if I’m going out after dark. I have the Wildcat Walk number saved as a contact in my phone. So far, the scariest thing I’ve met on my evening campus trips is a possum waddling across the sidewalk outside my dorm. However, not everyone has been so lucky.

WIBW reported that on Sunday, Aug. 11 a woman was raped near K-State’s campus at 4 a.m. I felt sick to my stomach when I read the warning issued from the Riley County Police Department. I started texting every girl I knew who was living in Manhattan over the summer. “Are you safe?” “Did you hear about the warning?” I became even more concerned when I read about another woman being assaulted on Aug. 18. As I talked to my friends about the incidents, a simple solution surfaced in many of our conversations. It would put all of our minds at ease if there were more lights on campus.

Overall, K-State handles student safety very well. With programs like Wildcat Walk and the Emergency Lights scattered across campus, it is easy for students to take measures to protect themselves. But even the 2012 Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report stated how campus is staying open longer and becoming more accessible to the public. Right now, there is no set plan for a major lighting overhaul, only lighting upgrades being added as needed. After the recent incidents, it makes sense to re-examine this issue.

Adding more lighting to an area has been proven to deter crimes. In a 2001 Cambridge University experiment, crime rates decreased by 41 percent in areas where street lighting was improved. The savings caused by reduced crimes rates actually outweighed the financial costs of adding street lights. Adding more lighting on campus might mean a chunk of money upfront, but this could be easily covered by the reduced crime rate on campus.

Along with safety, a growing trend at K-State is our concern with the environment and energy costs. These ideals can be seen taking shape in recycling bins popping up around campus and in more complex projects like the Leadership Study Building’s LEED certification. Adding additional lighting around campus provides another opportunity for us to “go green” by changing out some of the old lights and installing the new fluorescent or LED light bulbs.

A single incandescent light bulb will shine for around 2,000 hours before burning out. This is nothing compared to a fluorescent light bulb that can last for up to 35,000 hours, according to a 2013 article at diffen.com. LED bulbs last even longer than fluorescents. In 2009, the New York Times reported even at 25,000 to 50,000 hours LED bulbs will still shine at 70 percent the brightness that they were when installed. With LED’s added benefits, it makes sense to switch our light sources at K-State to these high-efficiency bulbs. Many of the sidewalk lights already use LEDs. By changing out all of the lights to use these, plus adding in more lighting using the new light bulbs, K-State could save a considerable amount of money in the long term as well as boosting our environmentally friendly image.

More lighting isn’t enough to make our campus completely safe. Students would still need to walk in groups, implement Wildcat Walk and use common sense. But adding more lights would help make our campus safer and greener, not to mention grant a general peace of mind for people walking late at night on campus. The material costs would be outweighed by the potential savings from crime reduction and energy efficient light bulbs. The best part in my opinion? With more lighting, a squirrel can be clearly identified as just a squirrel. No more imaginary serial killers in the shadows. Here’s hoping that there will be no more real threats around campus either.

Lauren Komer is a sophomore in biology. Please send comments to opinion@k-statecollegian.com

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