Annual campus walk focuses on safety improvements

Christine Dimeo

Around 20 students, faculty and staff walked around campus for two hours on Thursday evening, pointing out “trip hazards” such as potholes or uneven pavement and unlit areas of parking lots and sidewalks.

Each year, the Student Government Association hosts the Campus Safety Walk in an effort to create a safer and more secure environment on campus.

Along with SGA representatives, employees of the Office of Sustainability, the WKU Police Department and university administration as well as several students were present at Thursday’s walk.

SGA President Jay Todd Richey said participants were looking for anything that could potentially present a hazard to students whether by accident or because of others with malicious intent taking advantage of the surroundings.

“We’re looking at holes in the sidewalk, we’re looking at lighted areas…we’re probably going to be focusing a lot of our efforts now concerning campus improvements with pedestrian safety,” Richey said.

Additionally, representatives from the Office of Sustainability pointed out any “green spots” or areas where special efforts were being made to minimize environmental damage.

Members of the group specifically raised questions about a dangerous intersection of College Heights Boulevard and Colonnade Drive where pedestrians are at risk of not being seen, a number of non functioning street lights around the Honors College and International Center and a wide pothole running across the entrance to Helm Lot that poses a threat of overturning bikers and skateboarders.

Near the end of the walk, the group tested the emergency tower system by activating a tower in front of the Preston Health and Activities Center, after giving advance warning to university police.  

SGA Campus Improvements chair Zachary Jones organized the event. He said the primary objective of the walk was to address safety hazards; however, the walk also provided an opportunity to educate those present on safety procedures and mechanics.

“It’s a great time to ask questions,” Jones said.

University administrators – such as  vice president of Student Affairs Brian Kuster, director of Parking Services Jennifer Tougas, director of the Office of Student Conduct Michael Crowe and captain of the WKU Police Department John Bailey – were present to explain to students “why things are the way they are,” Jones said.

Jones said he believes student turnout to the event was around triple that of the previous year, though he still encourages more students to participate in next year’s event.

“The more the merrier,” he said. “If for no other reason, you become informed.”

Tougas said students don’t even need to be present at the walk in order to improve campus safety.

“You know, we’ve got 17,000 eyes on this campus and every single one of them can report something if they see something they’re concerned about,” she said.

During last year’s walk, participants called for LED lights along Regents Avenue, a request that was eventually fulfilled.

Richey said SGA will continue to work hard to implement recommendations made by this year’s group.

“We have a lot to do,” Richey said “But I think I can speak for the whole group when I say we’re very impressed with the safety mechanisms and how beautiful and impressive our campus is at this point.”

Digital Reporter Christine Dimeo can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected]