ISS discusses possible expansion of University emergency phone network

The Illinois Student Senate discussed a possible expansion of the University’s emergency phone network at its meeting last Wednesday. Following discussion, the issue was referred to the Committee on Academic Affairs pending further discussion.

The University has a network of 68 emergency phones that are stationed in all campus buildings, parking garages and numerous bus shelters.

But the functionality of these phones is of concern to Illinois Student senators Kevin Huang and Rachel Heller.

Huang, a sophomore in LAS, said this expansion is necessary.

“This resolution is for the safety of the students,” Huang said. “We have seen a lot of the emergency phones have been broken, ineffective or unclean.”

The proposal explains that “an observable amount” of the emergency phones seem to be outdated and not user-friendly, which makes them unreliable and unusable.

Emergency phones can prevent incidences of crime, help report crimes or provide assistance during emergencies. According to the University’s Annual Security Report for 2011, the number of criminal offenses on campus decreased from 2009 to 2011, which ISS says can be associated with the success of emergency phones around campus.

After this proposal was introduced during the meeting, senators addressed the issue of student fees funding emergency phones.

Rhonda Kirts, ISS adviser, explained that students pay a $56 transportation fee a semester, which goes toward Champaign-Urbana MTD bus extended hours and SafeRides.

“Working at the Office of the Dean of Students, I buy safety whistles with your student fee money,” Kirts said. “Other than the transportation fee that you can point for the safe rides, there is no safety fee.”

Damani Bolden, student body president and senior in ACES, pointed out the factors of urgency regarding this approval.

“I hope that (Huang) and (Heller) both reach out to Facilities and Services and figure out what’s already happening, but also I hope (Huang) reaches out to the University Police Department to see if they have any plans in the works to enhance our campus safety,” Bolden said. “If it is something we need to address right away, I hope that the senate will step up and address this issue on behalf of the student body.”

Liz can be reached at [email protected]