Emergency phone expansion proposal tabled by ISS committee

The University of Illinois Police Department responded to Illinois Student Senate concern over the current state of emergency phones on campus with confirmation that the phones are fully functioning.

UIPD Deputy Chief Skip Frost explained what might have lead to the concern and assumption.

“I disagree with the assumption that a lot of them aren’t working,” Frost said. “If you go and push that red button, it’s going to work, but the issue is with time and age, and being out in the weather. People, without thinking about it, love to post things on them and write graffiti and make them look rough, so there are things we need to do to make them look better.”

Kevin Huang, Illinois Student Senator and sophomore in LAS, said the ISS resolution is tabled in the committee on campus affairs, and no progress has been made.

Although there is not talk of where the proposal will go from here, Frost, speaking for University Police, sees the value in emergency phones.

Frost explained that University Police with student patrol staff routinely check the phones to make sure they are properly working. If a phone isn’t working, police file a service order immediately to get those fixed.

Frost said he understands that everyone wants the emergency phones to be operational, and so does he, but University Police have found that there are “virtually very, very few instances that those things are ever utilized in an actual emergency.”

“We certainly recognize the value they have and letting people know where they are at and that they can use them in an emergency, but with the proliferation of cellphones, let’s be realistic, they are being used very infrequently,” Frost said.

Illinois Student Senator Dominique Johnson, who is a supporter of the resolution, disagrees with Frost, explaining the difference between using an emergency phone and a cellphone.

“You go up to the button. You push it,” he said. “The light goes off and the cops come instantly. There is no dialing anyone.”

In order to go further with the proposal, Johnson suggests that ISS lobby the administration to purchase more emergency phones.

“Before we do that I want to know how many emergency phones we have on campus and their locations,” Johnson said. “We need an adequate report on which phones are (broken), which phones are in horrible locations that no one knows about. It’s up to the senators and ourselves to create the actual detailed report and then come back to the senate and go to each of our department college councils and then go to the administration.“

Frost said the direction of the resolution is completely in the hands of ISS.

“If the ISS is willing to assist us with this … then we’re going to make sure that the e-phones continue to exist on this campus,” he said.

Although ISS is spearheading the initiative, Johnson said he believes the student body will be the ultimate driving force.

“It has to be something that students easily want to get behind,” Johnson said. “This is a very simple issue: it’s safety. You may think it’s a waste of money, but I really don’t think you can waste money when it comes to being prepared.”

Liz can be reached at [email protected]