Annual Safety Walk Addresses Student Concerns

As the sun set Thursday night, students and staff set out for an evening stroll to participate in the annual Student Government Association (SGA) Campus Safety Walk.

Campus Safety Walk 2012
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Students and administrators gather for the Student Government Association's Campus Safety Walk.

Each fall, SGA brings together staff from Facilities, the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD), Student Affairs, Capital Planning and Space Management, Housing and Campus Services to walk campus with students at dusk, identifying and discussing ideas for improving safety.

“The goal is to highlight risks on campus to administrators who can implement solutions to those risks,” said Trey Sides, organizer of this year’s walk and chair of SGA’s Planning and Capital Development Committee.

The path for this year’s walk was developed with the help of organizers from the Student Campus Safety Campaign that took place in September, as well as GTPD. Along with providing education and awareness about various types of safety, the weeklong campaign gave students an opportunity to post sticky notes with comments on safety to a large-scale map on Tech Walk. The map was then digitized into a Google map, providing baseline data for SGA leaders. GTPD also provided a campus crime heat map that helped shape the route and met with students as they planned the Campus Safety Walk.

The walk began at North Avenue and Techwood Drive, meandering through specific points along North Avenue, Cherry Street and Ferst Drive before concluding at Atlantic Drive and 10th Street.

Lighting was a recurring topic during this year’s walk, with students requesting additional lighting near the Office of Human Resources, the Manufacturing Related Disciplines Complex and Atlantic Drive. Short-term lighting will come to Atlantic with the construction of the Engineered Biosciences Building on the west side of the street, but notes were taken for long-term lighting enhancements.

“There are a few places that we strongly feel need to be improved, including the area around the entrance to campus at Means Street and Tech Parkway, lighting around the Instructional Center lawn and the HAWK signal on North Avenue,” Sides said. Students are largely in support of the signal, and GTPD cites a significant decrease in accidents there since its installation, but both parties are aware that additional education is needed on the part of drivers.

Though the walk did not venture off campus into Home Park, Sides mentioned that he hopes administrators can work with the City of Atlanta to add lighting there as well. The area near Woodruff Residence Hall, as well as transportation to get to and from activities at the Student Competition Center and the Georgia Tech Research Institute, were also identified as needing improvement.

Warren Page, senior director in Facilities, and Chuck Rhode, vice president of Facilities, took detailed notes along the way. Page said most issues could be addressed fairly quickly; last year’s list was taken care of within about a month and resulted in fixed and additional lights, added signage for pedestrian safety and trimming trees and shrubs to increase visibility.