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The Blue & Gray Press | October 22, 2017

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Safety Walk Misstep

By EMILY MONTGOMERY

Police took about six minutes to arrive when President Hample tested a blue light on the night of Wednesday, Sept. 30, pretending to be a student being harassed by a strange man.

The six minutes were from the time Hample pressed the button to the moment an officer arrived. Meanwhile, though, police “were engaging in a controlled sweep of the area on foot and by vehicle,” said Susan Knick, assistant vice president for public safety and community support services.

Hample tested the light on the parking deck behind Alvey Hall during a regular Safety Walk around campus, which was run by sophomore James Sennett, building and grounds chairman for Student Senate.

The president pretended to be a student with two friends. Hample continued the story for a couple minutes, even adding that the man looked like he was about to pull out a gun. Then, she stopped responding until an officer walked up from a lower deck.

“I would have preferred that the response would have been faster,” Hample said after the event. “I understand that the current software does possibly need to be upgraded. I know our police work very hard.”

The police respond as quickly as they can while still being safe, according to Knick.

“We do not anticipate making any changes in protocol based on this incident,” she said.

Sophomore Ashley Nixon, who was on the walk, said that she was surprised and worried that it took as long as it did for an officer to arrive.

The blue light system failed last year while being tested during another Safety Walk, when police could not locate the caller. Knick was reported then as saying that all problems related to human error would be eradicated once a new computerized blue light system is set up.

The rest of the night went as planned, covering not only the main Fredericksburg campus but also other areas that students frequent as well, such as the UMW Apartments and Hanover Street.

According to Sennet, the purpose of the safety walk is to discuss problem areas picked out by members of the Student Senate.

“I think the students have some great ideas, and we’re going to work to fulfill them,” Hample added. “Campus safety is a high priority.”
Junior Lee Gilliam, a member of the Student Senate and SAVE, a student anti-violence organization, said that he has noticed increased safety around campus from a couple of years ago.

Senior Hassan Abdelhalim, president of the Student Senate, added that he thought a lot of good progress was made last year, and that this year even more progress will be made.

Many problems were addressed during the walk, such as loose bricks on various pathways, areas that needed extra lighting and the pathway that leads from College Avenue past Jepson Hall, which they are considering paving and lighting.