February 10, 2023 | NEWS | By Michael Braithwaite
Colorado College will be removing its blue light emergency system, director of campus safety, Cathy Buckley, confirmed on Tuesday. A collaboration with the facilities team, the project will take place in multiple phases, with exact dates yet to be determined.
With the loss of the emergency call boxes, emergency calls from campus will instead take place via a mobile device, either using the campus safety emergency line (719-389-6911) or the RAVE Guardian application, both of which Buckley claimed are safer and more effective than the current light poles.
“If there is a threat, we encourage the threatened person to move to a safer location,” wrote Buckley in an email. “This would be inside a building or away from the threat.”
According to Buckley, the hard-wired radios within most of the lights have reached the end of their lifecycle and need to be replaced. Recognizing this issue, the college began a five-year review in the Summer of 2022 to determine the effectiveness of the system and found that it was not being used for its intended purpose.
“None of the calls in the previous 5 years, to include pre-pandemic years, resulted in an actual emergency,” wrote Buckley. “The majority of activations are by children visiting campus and unhomed persons.”
A current member of CCEMS agreed with Buckley’s statement, saying that the blue lights don’t seem to serve the intended purpose they had when they were installed. This removal comes in the wake of many other college campuses nationwide also removing their blue light systems, including the University of Colorado Boulder in 2016.
Some Colorado College students oppose the campus removing the current blue light system.
“We’ve had multiple intruder cases in the last two years,” said Jackson Kresse ‘25. “I feel like [campus safety] is taking away just another resource for students can use to communicate in an emergency.”
“It definitely takes time for me to figure out the phone number for them,” said Andie Will ‘26.
However, other students do not see much value in keeping the call boxes around.
“I don’t think [removing the blue lights] would make a huge difference,” said Sarah Ichinose ‘26.
“I don’t really know where any of the stations are,” an anonymous student said.
Many students did not even realize that campus safety had an emergency app they could download on their phones, and upon hearing this information, supported the removal of the blue light system. However, some students are wary about campus safety possibly being able to track their location through the RAVE application.
“My first thought when they told us to download the app was ‘I don’t want their spyware on my phone,’” said AJ Fabbri ’25.
Even with the loss of a significant visual safety element around campus, Buckley believes that students will feel as safe around campus after the blue lights have been taken out as they are currently.
“Students leverage the technology in the palm of their hand, their cellphones, to maintain safety on campus,” wrote Buckley. “It is through this collective community that we can be here for each other.”