Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Lights aim to protect students

This is the third part of series examining safety on the UW-Madison campus.

With criminal activity looming over the opening weeks of the school year, blue light emergency poles on campus could become life-saving resources.

The University of Wisconsin Police Department is in direct connection with over 62 emergency telephone poles, commonly referred to as blue light poles. These poles, located throughout campus according to amount of traffic and degree of risk associated with locations, serve as an instant emergency indicator. When activated, they command immediate dispatch of UW police officers to the location.


Some, however, question whether 62 emergency phones are adequate for the widespread UW campus.

UW junior Mallory Fredrickson said she doesn’t know the locations of many blue light poles.

“If I was in trouble I wouldn’t know where to [find help],” Fredrickson said. “I’d have my cell phone with me, but I’d have no idea where to run.”

According to UW Police Sgt. Ben Newman, students should be able to spot a blue light pole from almost every location on campus.

“With the rising amount of cellular phones on campus, I feel the [number] of emergency phones is adequate,” Newman said, adding that blue light poles are only a portion of the emergency phone system on campus.

The emergency telephone system consists of 243 emergency phones, most of which are located inside elevators and near entrances to campus buildings.

Fredrickson said she rarely worries while walking home, but admitted she’s “a little naíve.”

“I know I should [worry] — some of my friends have been chased home by strangers or grabbed — [but] I still don’t worry.”

According to the UW Police Department’s annual report, there were six forcible rapes on campus in 2003, rising from three the year before. There were also six robberies, rising from four in 2002.

The 2004 annual report has yet to be released.

UW Police could supply the record of one incident — water damage in a campus facility — reported by a blue light pole.

Students are informed of blue light pole locations at Student Orientation and Registration with campus maps.

Blue light poles were initially established as a response to student group and police feedback, according to Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor of facilities planning and management.

“We look at areas where there could be a relatively consistent amount of traffic after dark,” Fish said. “[We look at] areas where we’ve done a lot of lighting and areas where we know people go back to housing from studying or evening activities.”

UW sophomore Nathan Johns said he appreciates the various locations of the poles.

“When I walk around campus at night, especially by the trails or dorms, I don’t worry, [but] it’s good to know that they’re there,” Johns said.

For more information on the blue light poles and the emergency telephone system, contact the UW Police Department at 262-2957 or e-mail at .

For information on specific locations of the blue light poles, contact the UW Campus Information and Visitor Center at 269-2400 or visit .

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *