There's no denying that I love my school, its beautiful architecture, the stunning nature that surrounds campus, and the hubbub of a thriving capital city are enough to make any girl fall in love. Although, recently, my school has been falling short in one area, protecting the safety of its students.
At a school like UW-Madison, the city is perfectly intertwined with the campus, so much so that one cannot plainly see where one ends and the other begins, and it is beginning to become a problem.
On every college campus across America you will find what are called "blue lights," which are alert systems that involve simply pressing a button when you feel unsafe, signaling the police, who should subsequently arrive at the location in less than a minute. This is a system that I support wholeheartedly as a great way to ensure that students feel safe walking alone.
It seems on UW-Madison's campus, finding a blue light is almost like seeing a unicorn.
I see a few blue lights daily, located in the heart of campus near Bascom Hill, but as all UW-Madison students know, we do not often find ourselves strolling along Bascom at three in the morning. Instead, students are found walking along the streets of Madison late at night, returning from the library, bars, or friends' homes, and in these settings, there is not a blue light to be found.
Recently, a student was assaulted on the very street on which I live, just a few blocks from Bascom. This event was completely avoidable, had UW-Madison installed blue lights into the parts of campus where most students live.
I understand that since the lines between campus and the city are blurred, the jurisdictions between the Madison Police Department and the UW Police Department are probably blurred as well, but that is no excuse. Students should feel safe walking home at night knowing that the police could be there in an instant if a button were pushed. Additionally, if I were a betting woman, I would imagine that criminals would feel much less inclined to commit crimes if they knew they could be caught in a matter of seconds.
UW-Madison does offer a program called SafeWalk, in which a student will be escorted by two safe walkers if they do not wish to walk alone - however, the problem here is that SafeWalk services end at midnight during the school week and at 1 a.m. on the weekends, well before the hours that many students are likely to be heading home.
I am not blissfully unaware of the fact that students bear some responsibility where their personal safety is concerned, and that they should take necessary precautions. Most students know that it is wise to walk home in groups and be aware of their surroundings, avoiding distractions like listening to music or texting. Still, we shouldn't have to live on a campus where we don't feel protected at all times.
I beg of you, UW-Madison administration, please pursue some efforts to further ensure the safety of your students.
I do not want to live on campus where I and my peers feel as though we cannot fully enjoy our college years, due to feeling unsafe or insecure many times during a given week. If you truly care about the protection and safety of your students, as you claim, then I look forward to seeing more blue lights being installed on every corner of Madison's streets.