December 4, 2016

Too dark for comfort: Lighting on campus needs improvement

Emily Van De Riet

Emily Van de Riet

Walking out to my car at night, I always have my car keys clutched in my left hand and my cell phone in the other. My car key is pointed outward between my pointer and middle finger in a position ready for stabbing, if necessary (yes, I’m serious). My phone is always open to the dial pad, ready to call 911 if I need to. If not that, then I’m on the phone with my boyfriend, just to make sure I make it safely to my car without vanishing.

This is my normal routine every time I leave school at night, which is at least two to three times a week due to taking night classes and working late nights at The Journal. It’s become instinct, but I’m not numb to it. My heart still beats quickly, and I’m constantly checking my surroundings. Honestly, I probably look like there’s something wrong with my neck, as many times as I turn my head to look behind me.

In brutal honesty, this campus needs to be better lit, period. It’s way too dark outside at night to feel comfortable about my surroundings. There’s a street lamp only every so often, and there are many spots on campus where there is no light at all.

In particular, the spot by the dumpsters in between Sverdrup and the art building absolutely needs to be lit. There is no light there whatsoever. The scariest part is that there are big dumpsters and walls where someone could easily be hiding.

Am I crazy to think this way? I don’t think so. Just earlier this year, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 25 percent of females experience some form of sexual assault in college. And it’s not just about sexual assault. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network reported that for every four sexual assaults against women, there are five robberies with women as the targets. Both of these scenarios worry me.

Illustration by Sarah Blankenship

Illustration by Sarah Blankenship

Leaving class at 8:30 p.m. is a little scary, but not completely awful. Night classes that end at 9:30 p.m. are worse. Exiting campus in the middle of the night at 3 a.m. (sometimes later) on The Journal’s production nights are the absolute worst. I know I’m not the only one who experiences this. Many people take night classes, and many majors require late-night studying. And I walk by those unlit dumpsters every time.

If Webster University is concerned with the safety of their students, it’s a no-brainer that campus should be better lit at night. Webster wants to talk about the dangers of sexual assault (or at least the online prevention program aims to do so), but hasn’t thought about the fear-alleviating benefits of adding more street lights on campus. I’m not saying better lighting will stop sexual predators or robbers; however, victims would be able to see their surroundings better and maybe be able to avoid getting so close to the perpetrators. At the very least, it would help give me peace of mind, and maybe I wouldn’t have to clutch my keys so tightly.

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