The Blue Lights

A recent incident on the UTPB campus involving sexual assault has raised concern over the safety of all college campuses. Is Midland College a safe campus?

Safety is a prioritized concern at MC, especially for the Midland College Police Department and the Student Government Association. The two are working on individual projects and teaming up to ensure everyone at MC is safe.

SGA President Owen Key said that the Student Government strives to solve student issues, which include safety precautions. Last semester the SGA, a student-led initiative, brought the idea of a blue light system to the MCPD.

According to MCPD Chief Richard McKee, a blue light system works by having between 15 and 18 call boxes strategically placed on campus. These boxes would be monitored by an alarm system 24/7. If an issue arises on campus, a student goes to the call box, which alerts a dispatcher who forwards the information to the police.

“The Student Government is really enthusiastic about the blue light system,” Daniel Aldana, Vice President of SGA, said. However, the system has not been put into place yet. Bids were taken, quotes were made, and the police department even put in a proposal for a grant to fund the project. However there were issues with the towers so no grant money was received in time for a purchase last April.

Some may believe MC is not safe due to a lack of emergency telephones. However, the college already has the Rave text messaging system. Rave alerts students by cell phone and email within minutes. Every student is enrolled in the program, but may opt-out.

BRG is also in place. This is a system of black speakers which are placed in every building to broadcast alerts in emergency situations. There is also a speaker on top of the library, and plans to install other outdoor speakers northwest and southeast of campus. This is especially helpful for when students are in class or do not have cell phones.

MCPD is trying to receive a grant to put Copsync into effect. This would be an icon on computers in all classrooms which, when pressed, pinpoints the location and sends an alert. When the icon is clicked, a window pop ups for a prompt to enter a message that can be sent to the MCPD, the Midland PD and MISD PD.

Students can also take their safety into their own hands with help from the MCPD. The Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) is a program offered to MC female students which teaches basic self defense, awareness, maneuvers and procedures to avoid issues. Students should also stay in groups when walking from classes, especially at night. An important key to staying safe at campus is to “be aware of surroundings and what is going on,” McKee said..

The campus is also being more illuminated thanks to a safety and energy project by Chevron. Lights are being erected and old ones are being replaced. The new lights are LED which are brighter, more energy-efficient and longer-lasting, according to Chevron officials. A brighter campus means fewer dark places in which assaults may occur.

But even a brightened campus can be dangerous if you do not take responsibility for yourself. Take some of your own personal precautions by walking in lighted areas in groups, carrying pepper spray, and even taking some of the offered self defense classes. Remember the Chief’s words about being aware of your surroundings.

In other words, help yourself. Don’t sit around waiting for the campus to act on your behalf.

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