University Housing is removing Code Blue phones across University Village, replacing the emergency call poles with improved lighting fixtures.
Code Blue phones were installed 14 years ago and gave users a direct line of communication to police when most students did not have mobile phones. Instead of continued upkeep for the Code Blue poles — including maintenance, removal and replacement of phone lines, along with a switch from a 3G to 4G network, totaling in the tens of thousands of dollars — renovations are underway for higher-quality exterior building lighting in residential areas.
Computer science senior and Student Government Student Affairs committee chair Anuhya Emmandi said UTD Police Chief Larry Zacharias reported that in a 10-month window, students used the call poles 40 times. Of those calls, only one constituted an emergency, when a female injured her ankle. In 2016, students used the call poles approximately 80 times, but only 10 calls were for emergencies.
“Student Government reached out to Chief Zach to see what the status is, and do we plan on replacing them, or repairing them, or will they stay that way?” Emmandi said. “The general consensus (in Student Government) seems to be that we should reinvest that money for repairing them into additional security features like security cameras or things like that.”
She said although students rarely used the Code Blue poles, Student Government wants to maintain a safe campus for its residents.
“With the blue lights, there is a sense of security,” Emmandi said. “How can we replace them so that students feel safe, while at the same time not creating a false sense of security? Because if we leave them up and they’re not working, it doesn’t help students either.”
Matt Grief, associate vice president for Student Affairs, is overseeing the lighting renovation project. He said as Code Blue poles have continued to experience failures over the last few years, it has become difficult to invest in older technology when another solution may benefit students more.
“What we decided is that we would rather invest in better lighting, because we know the phones were not used very often — if at all — for emergencies, and certainly with most people having the use of cell phones we felt like this was the change we needed to make — to provide a quality, lit environment with much better technology,” Grief said.
All pole lights and wall packs in residential areas are brighter than previous lighting. Lighting in parking areas is also under renovation for improved visibility at night.
“We put student security at the highest level,” Grief said. “We want to keep students safe on campus, and this is one of the things we think we can do — to upgrade the technology here.”