N.I.T.E. Walk Increases Campus Safety
The biannual campus safety audit is performed by student volunteers, faculty and staff, Physical Plant and University Police.
Video credit: Danielle Barta | USF News
Video credit: Danielle Barta | USF News
TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 16, 2011) – Armed with flashlights and campus maps, students, faculty and employees of the University of South Florida walk the campus twice a year after dark to record broken lights, cracked sidewalks and other safety concerns.
N.I.T.E, Necessary Improvements to Transform the Environment, is a student organization that heads up the bi-annual N.I.T.E. Walk, a campus safety audit performed every spring and fall semester and submitted to Physical Plant for repairs and construction.
“We meet at the amphitheater and split up into groups,” said N.I.T.E. vice president Michael Awbrey. “Those groups go out to designated sections and look for anything unsafe, whether they think there should be more lights, more blue lights, whether there’s a crack in the sidewalk-anything and everything we feel could be done to improve our campus.”
The walk has been a twice-yearly event for the past eight to 10 years, said Lt. Joe Anderson of the University Police. Anderson has been involved in the N.I.T.E. Walk for the past eight years as part of his crime prevention duties.
“This campus has grown every day,” Anderson said. “I don’t think there has been a day I’ve been working for 25 years there hasn’t been construction on campus. It’s good every semester to go around campus and see how these changes affect the environment in respect to crime and safety concerns.”
Anderson said that the cooperation between N.I.T.E., Student Government and Physical Plant helps University Police keep the campus safe for all students.
“We can’t do it all,” Anderson said. “We need help from the community and N.I.T.E is an excellent organization.”
At this semester’s walk, 12 groups of student volunteers, Physical Plant employee volunteers, UP officers and USF faculty walked and rode Safe Team golf carts out to designated areas of campus to take note of any safety concerns.
Two lists were written for each group, Awbrey said. One is a list of repairs that could easily be done and the other a “wish list” of bigger construction projects, like new sidewalks or lights.
“One of the reasons we do N.I.T.E. Walk is because as great as Physical Plant is, they don’t have the manpower,“ Awbrey said. “They don’t have the resources to walk around all hours of the night to find all the unsafe areas of campus.”
The list is submitted to Physical Plant and the response is almost immediate, Awbrey said. Because of the N.I.T.E.’s spring audit, a new sidewalk leading off campus to Panera Bread on Bruce. B. Downs Boulevard has been constructed.
“A lot of students have started walking to University Mall, started walking to Panera so we recommended there be a sidewalk there,” Awbrey said. “Practically everything else we sent in was fixed or they’re in the process of fixing.”
Another result of N.I.T.E is that the blue emergency lights on campus are now brighter.
Michael Palin, a Relationship Equality and Anti-Violence League (R.E.A.L.) coordinator, hopes that future walks will be expanded to include the inside of residence halls.
“I wish there were a blue light equivalent inside the res halls so that if something happens, someone can trip an emergency signal for help,” Palin said.
Sarah Urrutia, a chemical engineering student at USF, came out to the walk as an assignment for her Issues in Feminism course. She said that other than seeing new parts of campus, she learned more about the blue lights.
“You should be able to see a blue light from every place you’re standing,” Urratia said.
In addition to blue lights, there is Guardian, a “pocket blue phone” implemented by USF’s Division of Public Safety. Subscribers can activate a precautionary timer as they travel from one part of campus to another. The timer is set as the individual leaves a location and will alert the University Police if that person does not call to cancel the timer in a specified amount of time.
N.I.T.E. and University Police stress the importance of campus safety and urge students to volunteer just an hour every semester to look at the campus from a student’s perspective and point out safety concerns.
This year’s fall walk list included repairs of several broken lights, suggestions for areas that need blue lights, cracked sidewalks and trees that are covering lights and signs that need to be trimmed.
“It doesn’t take too much time out of your schedule to do a N.I.T.E. Walk and make a big difference on campus,” said Danchelle Jones, a elementary education student at USF.
Daylina Miller can be reached at 813-500-8754.