CJ Robinson, Reporter
For students who take night classes at Pierce College Puyallup, many walk to their cars when it’s dark. While campus safety has preventative measures against crime, some students wonder if it’s enough to ensure their safety.
An informal student survey by members of The Puyallup Post show that five out of 20 students don’t feel safe walking to their cars at night.
One common complaint among the students is the absence of lights in the parking lots.
“You can see (lights) are burned out,” student Sarah Bridges said. “Even when you’re standing next to them in the A parking lot, they’ll go out. It’s creepy.”
The lack of lighting lies specifically in Parking Lot C, where many students have to park when the A and B lots are full but isn’t solely limited to that area.
Chris MacKersie, director of safety & security/assistant director of facilities, said that making sure lights are working is of high priority to the college.
“Campus safety regularly goes through the lights to ensure they are functioning properly,” MacKersie said.
On Jan. 26, members of The Puyallup Post conducted an informal investigation of the lighting in campus parking lots and found that 14 lights weren’t functioning properly throughout the campus. Key locations with malfunctioning lights included two lights in a row on the wooded path from the Arts and Allied Health Building to the Brouillet Library/Science building, one covering a cross walk from the AAH to Parking Lot B, two at the entrance of the path that connects Parking Lot B with the Health Education Center and two lights on the West Access Road. Others were in the courtyard connecting to the Gaspard Administration Building, the College Center and the LSC, the one-way road that connects Parking Lots C and D along the back of the campus and a light that turns on and off in Parking Lot A.
A new system will help deter these types of malfunctions from happening, MacKersie said. This new system, Megamation, helps streamline work orders and makes sure resources such as first-aid kits, emergency call boxes and lights are regularly checked. Mackersie said it will be put into place sometime in February.
Student K.D. Williams identified a problem associated with the parking lots is the availability of general and disabled parking spots for students who have to walk long distances to get to their cars. She specifically referenced the large amount of unused staff parking spaces in Parking Lot B.
MacKersie said the college follows Access and Disabilities Act code and in some cases exceeds the minimum number of disabled parking spots, and that the opinion of the student may have been one of perspective because they may only come during busy times.
Students also voiced their opinions about how to combat the problem of feeling unsafe.
Currently, Pierce’s only exterior cameras cover the entrances to view cars entering and leaving the campus. No cameras record the parking lots, courtyard or other exterior points on campus.
“If I knew there were cameras, I’d actually feel more safe,” student Veronica Halte said.
Many students advocated for the addition of patrols on campus and more educational resources for students, such as how to effectively use self-defense mechanisms, how to increase awareness or what to do in the situation of a crime.
When walking to a car at night, walking in pairs is safer and decreases the chances of crime, MacKersie said. If walking out to a car alone, MacKersie advises students to do what law enforcement says; make sure to have everything arranged and keys in-hand before walking outside and be aware of surroundings. Texting, listening to music or looking down while walking could increase the threat of a crime, as opposed to walking with a purpose and showing confident body language.
Campus safety officers are available to escort students to their cars, emergency call boxes are located throughout the campus and the Office of Student Life hosted the “Students Fight Back” event on Jan. 28 in the AAH theatre to teach students self-defense skills.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost