CSUN students, faculty, staff and public safety officers will walk around campus looking for safety issues during the Night Safety Walk, which is currently planned for mid-April.
“The purpose of the safety walk is to get a group of people to really comb the campus and look for all different types of safety hazards,” Special Assistant to the Chief of Police Christina Villalobos said.
These safety issues can include lighting, uneven pavement, tripping hazards, low-hanging tree branches, lack of appropriate signs or signs posted too low.
Physical Plant Management, the department in charge of hosting the safety walk twice a year, then compiles a list of all the safety concerns and begins repairing things in order of immediate importance.
“I think these types of issues affect everybody,” Villalobos said. “Everybody wants a safe campus. Our goal is to improve the campus and create a safe campus.”
“A lot of that is stuff that people can do on their own,” Villalobos said. “For example, if it’s late at night and you’re leaving the library at 10 o’clock you could walk alone but we have a program that’s in place so that you don’t have to do that.”
In addition to the Night Safety Walk, CSUN also has an Amber Light Program and Matador Patrol on campus at night.
For the Amber Light Program, CSUN parking enforcement officers drive through and around parking lots and structures to help people who may have questions or need to report a concern.
“The purpose of doing that is that it’s dark and the amber lights are easily visible,” Villalobos said. If someone’s car needs a jump-start or if they lock their keys inside their car, the parking enforcement officers can help.
Matador Patrol operates Monday through Thursday from dusk until 11 p.m. and are available to escort people across campus and to student housing.
“We don’t encourage people to walk alone so if you are getting out of class late at night you can call a number and a person from Matador Patrol can meet you at your location and walk with you,” Villalobos said.
Thomas Brown, executive director of Physical Plant Management, said construction areas are the ones most affected by lighting issues.
“When construction comes in it displaces lights because they’re ripping through infrastructure,” Brown said. “Over the years, going through tremendous construction, the campus is growing and continues to grow. It’s always tough in the construction zones and areas are always impacted and they impact all of our daily lives. It’s the necessary evil.”
Part of planning construction is predicting new, revised pathways and appropriate lighting, Brown said, but they don’t know what needs to be adjusted until they physically go look at a site. This is where the Safety Walk comes in.
“We encourage the ladies to show up because they’re probably more concerned than others,” Brown said.
The Night Safety Walk started out with the Committee for the Safety of Women on Campus in the early 1980s. To respond to their concerns the campus started the tradition of hosting an annual night walk, which has now become semi-annual.
Keenia Tappin, a sophomore biology major who lives in on-campus housing, said lighting is her major concern.
“I think they should fix the lighting areas because it’s especially creepy at night when you’re walking by yourself and you can’t see anyone who might be in front of you or around you,” Tappin said.
“I have to walk past the construction area and it’s extremely dark,” Tappin said. “You can’t see who’s around you until they’re right in front of you and they could be a predator and I wouldn’t know until I got next to them.”
Brown said PPM has a routine of going through and replacing burned out light bulbs but there are always more. “There’s so many of thousands of lights out there that you do very frequently find a burned out light bulb,” he said.
“The campus is a safe place,” Brown said. “We’ve got a great police, they’re out there and they’ve got the CSOs. It is a safe place compared to all other social, public environments.”
“But even if I feel this is a very safe campus people should rely on their gut feelings,” Brown advised. “If you have a concern, don’t go there. Those little eerie feelings that people get should not be ignored.”
“If you’re there and you’re feeling uncomfortable call the police for an escort but also call Physical Plant at our extension and report,” Brown said. “We log every call. We go out and investigate, repair, replace, whatever.
“So help us be our eyes and ears,” Brown said. “We have a lot of people out there but not nearly as much as students. Do your part.”
To report a safety concern, call the Department of Public Safety at (818) 677-2111 or PPM at (818) 677-2222.