A flashing blue light across the street from Monadnock Hall causes alarm for students and faculty as to what might be going on with the blue light phones around campus. Since Nov. 9, the blue light emergency phone across the street from Monadnock Hall has been flashing at random when no one is seen pressing the button. Is this a paranormal warning from the other side, or are the phones so old that they are malfunctioning?
These blue light emergency phones have been set up around campus since before cell phones were invented. There are different makes and models on campus and, according to Amanda Warman, director of Campus Safety, the older models are the most reliable while the newer models tend to have more problems. There are two different types of phones: one that has just a button that is directly connected to Campus Safety, and one that has an actual phone where a student can make a call to somewhere else besides Campus Safety, such as 9-1-1. If a student is being followed or chased, then a student can press the button on each phone the individual passes and be tracked by campus security.
“They come up as numbers. The numbers have assigned locations on them so they come up on our caller ID so they [Campus Safety] can see that. We don’t, obviously, want someone to stand there and continue to be in trouble,” Warman said. When a student presses the button for Campus Safety, students should only have to wait a maximum of about two minutes before campus security shows. Although, according to sophomore Sarina Kauffman, this is not always the case.
“I was sitting with my friend in front of my Owl’s Nest once and saw a boy use the blue light. He stood there for at least four minutes before giving up and walking away,” Kauffman said. When it comes to the Monadnock Hall phone, the underground cable has failed and there is ground water in the cable lines. The light flashes because at certain water levels it sends a signal to the phone to flash. The cable could be replaced, but that means digging up the parking lot to get to the cable underneath. Instead the Information Technology Group, who is involved in the infrastructure of the phones, has decided that they will remove the phone and put a new one on the outside of the Fiske Annex building. The new phone will be up in two to three weeks.
“If they’re out there, they should work,” Kevin Breslend, director of Network Infrastructure Services and Security, said.
The crosswalk in front of Monadnock Hall is a dangerous place as it is, and now with the emergency phone out, Campus Safety encourages students to program Campus Safety’s number into their cell phones, which is (603) 358-2228. The blue light emergency phones are rarely used anymore, either because the campus is safe or students use their cell phones and do not even think about the blue phones. The idea of the need for the phones has come into question, but according to Warman, the phones are kind of like a security blanket.
“We don’t want to take them out because I think people are very used to seeing them and they like having them there, knowing they can be used if they need them,” Warman said.
Campus Safety checks the phones monthly to see if they work properly, and if they do not work they tell the IT Group so they can fix it. According to Breslend, the responsibility is his when it comes to fixing the phones and said that these phones are expensive and hard to maintain. “I think we all agree that if we have them then they need to be working properly,” Sylvie Rice, campus manager of Environmental Health and Safety, said.
Kaitlyn Coogan can be contacted at email@example.com.