The Chronicle’s VIew: The U needs fully functioning emergency phones

If you plan on being attacked or having any other physical emergencies on campus, make sure you are in an area where the emergency phones work-or where an emergency phone even exists.

Sound ridiculous? Unfortunately, some emergency phones on campus do not function properly, and some areas do not even have immediate access to an emergency phone. Nobody seems to know how many of the 53 free standing and 29 hanging phones actually work.

This presents a serious problem. If a U student is attacked or physically injured and searches for the nearest emergency phone, only to discover that it is out of service, time is lost and may place the student in a more precarious predicament.

That is why broken phones must be clearly marked until repaired. And areas without access to an emergency phone, such as the Merrill Engineering Building and surrounding parking lots, should be a major focus of attention. If nine burglaries in the area in February alone and a rape inside of the building last fall is not enough to convince U officials that steps must be taken, it is hard to imagine what is.

The police do provide an escort service, whereby students and campus visitors can be escorted to a car or residence on campus. The number to call is 585-COPS.

But if a person is in need of this or other emergency services and does not have access to a cell phone or any other phone, he or she is out of luck.

It is true that the phones are expensive to maintain, to say the least. It costs the U $24,000 per month to keep the phones up and running. If the U were to add an emergency phone in the Merrill Engineering Building area, it would cost the U approximately $20,000.

Funds are hard to come by, but isn’t the safety of students of utmost importance?

A committee is working to solve the problem. One solution is to request money from the Capital Facilities Committee to replace old phones and add new ones on campus. But this is likely a lost cause, considering the committee is intent on funding the reconstruction of the Capitol building. And if the state Legislature refuses to provide funding for the Marriott Library reconstruction project, a request to fund emergency phones on campus will also fall on deaf ears.

Whatever happens, it is in the best interest of students, faculty and all campus visitors to have easy access to emergency phones-especially ones that function as they should.