A false sense of security

Imagine this: a shadowy figure hunkers behind a dumpster outside a dorm after his preferred hiding place, the bushes, were hacked away by safety-minded campus officials.

Imagine a student exits the dorm and heads to the library for some late-night cramming. The shadowy figure follows. Afraid, the student races to the nearest emergency phone and presses the button.

Imagine nothing happens. The phone doesn’t work.

What comes next is anybody’s guess.

Situations such as this should not occur. But they almost certainly will, unless Western does a better job of maintaining its 33 emergency phones.

A recent inspection revealed that nearly half of these phones were not operating properly.

What, then, is the point in dotting the Hill with the luminous, blue- and green-tipped posts? If one doesn’t work, the entire emergency phone system has failed, since it’s impossible to predict the location of a student in need.

Western has improved outdoor lighting in certain dangerous areas. It has eliminated vegetation that could conceal potential criminals.

But Western does not set aside money specifically for the maintenance of its emergency phones, which could be a distressed student’s only chance to avoid being victimized. It’s time for that to change.

In addition to the allocation of funds, Western should increase the frequency of phone checks. Biweekly, weekly, daily, whatever. It’s a necessary practice that can’t be done too often.

Meanwhile, Western must clearly mark the dysfunctional phones during the repair process. As bad as a broken phone is, a unit that a student falsely believes could provide help is equally unacceptable.

The problems need to be solved soon — before a faulty emergency phone leaves a student stranded and helpless.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member board of student editors.