Following reports of on-campus assaults this Fall, some UF students have moved from traditional campus safety methods, like blue lights, to more modern resources.
Jesse Pagan, a UF telecommunication senior, said he remembers learning about blue lights during preview. He has never used one, but he said he wouldn’t hesitate to.
“I thought it was pretty cool that you pick up the phone, and they know exactly where you are, but it’s weird to think that in four years I’ve never heard of anyone using it,” the 22-year-old said.
He said he and other students are less likely to use the blue lights because it is easier to use a cell phone.
“What happens when you get to the post and call?” he said. “You’re still there and vulnerable.”
Capt. Jeff Holcomb of the University Police said an online map highlights the more than 335 blue lights on campus, several of which were added this semester to accompany new buildings.
The phones provide direct communication with UPD and are intended for students to report crime, fire, medical emergencies or request a police escort. Once a call is made, a strobe light is activated to increase visibility.
Holcomb said they’re typically placed near entrances to buildings or parking lots.
“We continue to add blue phones to campus as new buildings are added to the campus facility,” he said. “But no, there’s no big push to increase them just because.”
Alex Rivera, a 21-year-old UF telecommunication senior, said she relies on TapShield, the mobile version of the blue light, to keep her safe.
“You have the light literally in the palm of your hand now,” Rivera said.
If students are worried, she said, they could easily send a text or call the police as opposed to looking for a blue light.
Due to the reports in Fall, the UF physical plant division made an effort to cut back heavy landscaping to improve visibility.
Holcomb said there has been a decrease in crimes that required a campus alert over the past few months.
[A version of this story ran on page 3 on 4/13/2015 under the headline “Students likely use phones in emergencies, not blue lights”]
A student bikes past a blue light, which provides students with a direct line to UPD in case of an emergency, near Marston Science Library. Blue lights are typically added as new buildings are constructed on campus.