The University Needs More Blue Lights in the North Parking Lots

The University of Nevada, Reno, needs more “blue lights” in the blue and green parking lots. UNR has a network of emergency “blue light” phones throughout the campus that have a blue strobe light on top, and a phone that can connect you to a regional 911 operator, or the University’s Campus Escort Service at the push of a button. However, there are only two located in the blue and green parking lots that are located at the far north end of the campus between 17th Street and N. McCarran — which are furthest away from academic buildings (aside from the medical buildings) and campus police services.

Many students park in the blue and green parking lots because they are the most affordable parking permits available to students. According to UNR’s website, an annual permit for the blue lot is $125 and an annual permit for the green lot it $230. Meanwhile, other parking permits that allow students to park closer to their classes can cost $400 a year.

Blue light on the UNR Quad./Credit UNR Website

UNR Parking Map. Credit/UNR Website

Haley Kuykendall, 21, studying social work at UNR says she usually leaves campus in the late evenings.

“It makes me feel unsafe when I’m there especially at night. I have a ton of classes that run late. The lighting is awful in the blue and green lots too,” Kuykendall said.

As designated by university issued parking permits, students who need to be at school that late can move their cars after 5:30 to a parking lot that’s closer to their classes. However, students like Kuykendall that have classes that end and start close to the same time, do not have a choice in the matter.

“I can move my car down [closer to where my classes are] but I’m usually in class and don’t have time to do so. I have classes back to back so I can’t,” Kuykendall said.

Noel Scheuerman, 21, is studying music education and parks in the blue parking lot.

“It’s darker up there at night and there’s less people to help. Especially with blue lot,” Scheuerman said.

Scheuerman, unlike some, is able to move her car to a safer parking spot when she has time between classes, but does so at a risk.

“I go out of my way to re-park my car when it gets dark out. Even if that means being late to a class or paying a parking ticket. $30 is worth being safe,” Scheuerman said.

According to Commander Kent Hawthorne for University Police Services, in 2016 there were 22 blue light activations total, in 2016 but not one of them were to report an emergency.

“None of those were to report an emergency. None of them were to report a crime of any kind. You know the people that ring doorbells and run? Some of them were those, there were a couple that were just people wanting information you know, looking for the Church of Fine Arts specifically, for a concert or something and they can’t find it so they push the button. I don’t have the figure for previous years but I’ve been here for six years and there may have been one or two [during that time] that were actual emergencies,” Hawthorn said.

While the blue lights aren’t regularly used for emergencies, there are still a number of on-campus crimes that happen each year. UNR’s most current statistics for on-campus crime are from 2015. That year, there were four incidents of sexual violence, 221 liquor and drug arrests, 10 incidents of burglary, and nine incidents of vehicle theft.

Hawthorne says the reason there aren’t many blue lights in the north lots because they aren’t heavily populated but add that having more would be a great idea.

“I think that would be a great idea. I don’t know I the plans are there for sure. But as they add more blue lights as the funding becomes available, that would be my suggestion. But I don’t know what facilities has planned. But that would be an excellent place to work on.”

After reaching out to Jake Arnold in UNR’s Facilities Department, they said they were unaware of new blue lights being installed in the north parking lots. However, they added that with all the new construction happening around the university, there would likely be more installed by all the new student housing coming in.

If students feel unsafe walking to their cars at night, has some advice:

· Don’t walk alone if it’s dark.

· Try to stay in well-lit areas to get to your destination.

· And don’t put your ear buds in because you can’t hear anybody coming behind you.

· Be be aware of your surroundings.

· If something doesn’t feel right, there’s a person up ahead that you are weary about, take an alternate route.

· Always make sure someone else knows where you’re at.

· Download the UNR safety app, SafePack so that you can have someone virtually walk with you via Google Maps. It also activates your camera and flash light for you as you’re walking.

· Call 911