Observant students who have walked around campus in the past few weeks may have noticed some curious blue lights attached to telephones, technology not seen at Saint Mary’s until this semester.
As warnings claiming that the phones were “out of service” were put up, students began to speculate: what are these things for?
The answer: The phones are part of a new network intended to help students in emergency situations by linking them directly to Campus Safety, according to Jason Mork, Campus Safety director. The seven phones are located in deliberate proximity to all the residence halls on campus.
“Right now, the goal is to make sure that these phones work [well] and to add them to our Campus Safety network,” Mork said. Almost all phones are now ready for use by students.
“The goal is for there to be a way for students to communicate in dangerous situations,” said Mork. When the buttons on the phone are pushed, the emergency line on the Campus Safety phone is automatically activated and triggers a staff response, even if the caller does not speak into the phone. The buttons also activate the blue lights, which blink to both deter other students from accidentally getting involved and to alert any safety personnel who might be in sight.
“One of our most effective features is that we’re present all the time,” said Mork. The Campus Safety desk is staffed at all times, making it the only office in the university to be staffed 24/7.
The farthest phone from Campus Safety headquarters is located near Saint Joseph’s and Pines Halls. Even at that distance, Campus Safety would be able to respond to an emergency call within 15 seconds, Mork said. As soon as the new Science and Learning Center is completed, another phone will be added in that area, completing the phone’s’ loop around campus.
Safety Call Boxes
Photo Courtesy of Tim Nguyen
These phones are not the only way to reach Campus Safety rapidly, however; the university boasts an entire network of courtesy phones. These phones, which number over 40, are located everywhere from the lobbies of residence halls to all the elevators on campus. The Campus Safety desk can also be reached at any time via any phone by calling 507-457-1703.
Correction: Almost all of the phones are up and working. The one not working are on the road down by Gilmore Hall. There are still some wireless issues that they have to work out. But students are urged to call 911 if they need help.