Section: News

Rise and fall of the blue light system

by India Amos

Blue lights might be disappearing from the Hill in the future, which would help pull Kenyon’s technology into the 21st century. Kenyon’s emergency call buttons, colloquially known as the blue lights, sit on top of the poles on which the buttons lie, and are in need of an upgrade according to Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper.

“Currently this is in the very beginning stages to explore potential Emergency Phones,” Hooper wrote in an email to the Collegian. “We’re continuing to look at other options.” While no definitive plans of improvement have been made, Hooper agrees there is a need to replace this antiquated technology.

“Our current emergency phones are becoming difficult to have replacement parts,” Hooper wrote. “There are 11 that are here from the late 1980s, and we have continued to place additional phones around the campus. With the increase in technology, we hope to find a system that meets all the campus’ needs for the next 25 years.”

Grounds Person Sharon Franz, who has worked at Kenyon for almost as long as these call buttons have been on campus, has seen firsthand the way technology has evolved. “Back then and in the late ’80s and ’90s, things were a little different than they are now, and not everybody had [cell] phones.”

Emily Olson ’17 said she has never seen the call buttons being used, and that due to their remote locations, students “don’t really know why they exist.” She added the buttons “are not located where students would need them. … You don’t really see them, so they’re not really useful.”

Regardless of the fact that technology has changed over the years, Franz said she believes these call buttons still have a purpose on campus. “I mean, what if your cell phone battery is dead?” Franz said. “What if there is a real dire emergency and you have no way to get a hold of someone and you’re down over the Hill or you’re down on the athletic fields?”

Despite a difference in opinion as to whether or not the buttons are necessary, Campus Safety plans on continuing their search to find a suitable upgrade.


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