North Texas Daily

Emergency poles located on campus can be of quick assistance

Emergency poles located on campus can be of quick assistance

Emergency poles located on campus can be of quick assistance
August 09
12:00 2018

Sexual assault is an issue that has gained a lot of attention on college campuses in the last 10 years. According to a study by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 11.2 percent of all students experience some type of sexual assault nationwide.

With the number of reported sexual assault cases at UNT having nearly doubled in 2016 compared to 2015, it is important for students to know what sources are available to them in case of emergencies, including the emergency poles placed around campus.

According to that same RAINN study, the amount of sexual assaults on campus typically peaks within the fall semester. Students should be aware of the safety measures UNT takes to help reduce the amount of crimes that occur on campus and help victims.

We currently have around 69 emergency phones on the main campus and another five at the Discovery Park campus,” said John Hester, Discovery Park police services supervisor, via email.

These emergency phones are located on tall, green poles, otherwise known as Code Blue, and are topped with a blue emergency light.

A code blue emergency phone by Willis Library. These phones help keep students safe by providing a way to call for help in a dangerous situation. Jacob Ostermann

“These emergency phones connect the caller with our police dispatch center with the press of a button,” Hester said. “Users can use them for an emergency, but also anytime they need police services — such as a security escort after hours, to report unsafe conditions, needing a jump start for a dead battery, etc.”

These poles are strategically placed around campus, including but not limited to areas near residence halls and recreational centers, and are tested monthly by the university’s alarm services coordinator. The poles can be used for non-emergency situations, however improper use is illegal.

“They’re only useful if people know their location, so you should take note of where they are, at least the ones nearby the buildings you frequent,” integrative studies senior Jastinee Xiong said. “You never know when you might need to use one, if ever. At the very least, save the UNT Police’s phone number to your contacts.”

Though she’s never felt unsafe on campus, even at night, Xiong feels that the poles can possibly be of better use when compared to cellphones in emergency situations.

“They can be faster than dialing the police since you have to dial for the UNT Police instead of 911, which will take you to the Denton police department instead,” Xiong said. “Plus, they won’t have to trace where you’re located since it’s a designated police post, so there’s less time wasted on asking for your location to get a dispatcher to you.”

Echoing Xiong, Hester also noted that the emergency poles are user friendly. 

“To use them you simply press the red button,” he said. “This [activates] the phone and dials the dispatch center, also causing the blue light on top to strobe.”

Integrative studies senior Lizzy Fisher believes incorporating information about the emergency poles would be a valuable step in ensuring students’ safety on campus.

“Honestly, I kind of forgot that we [had them] on campus,” Fisher said. “I can’t even picture where one is. I believe they are important to have, but I think they’re ineffective if people don’t know where they are or realize what their purpose is.”

If there were to be a communication issue when trying to use one of the poles, such as a microphone not working, an officer is sent to check on the reason for activation. For those unfamiliar with the location of where one of these may be, a map can be found online.

“There have been plenty of times where I’ve had to walk across campus at some ungodly hour [and] usually I would feel pretty safe,” Fisher said. “There have been a couple of times where I did feel unsafe, but I never really thought about the fact that if I needed it, there are those emergency poles.”

According to UNT’s 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, there was one statutory rape case, eight fondling incidents and 13 rapes that occured on campus in 2016. Of these 13 reported cases, 12 rapes occurred in residential facilities and one occurred on university public property.

The university has multiple services available for those needing to report a crime. Students can contact the Dean of Students office, Title IX Coordinators, the UNT Police Department or file a report online. Following the reporting of a crime, UNT has a response plan to help ensure the safety of the complainant.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that there was an additional 12 rape cases on top of the 13 that occurred on campus according to the 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. Story has been updated to reflect that of the 13 reported rape cases, 12 of them occurred on campus in residential facilities and one took place on university public property. The Daily apologizes and regrets this error.

Featured Image: Code Blue is an emergency phone located across campus to ensure safety for students. The phones will allow you to contact the Denton police department. Jacob Ostermann

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Rebecca Najera

Rebecca Najera

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