In May of last year, the 1851 Chronicle investigated Blue Lights that were not functioning. In total, there are 15 emergency Blue Lights and emergency boxes located around campus however now with one Blue Light out of order, Blue Key Society (BKS) members have refrained from discussing them on tours to prospective students.
While Campus Police is actively looking for ways to modernize the system, Captain Robert Manning says there is no timeline for an updated system.
“We don’t want to give them like misinformation so we’d rather just like cut it completely off,” said BKS team leader Zumm Serrano. “We’re not really sure what campus police is doing with the blue LED system because as you know, it’s been down from since like last year apparently.”
Another BKS team leader, Emily Casella said, “When we give tours, it’s kind of like putting on a show, and you want to highlight the best of Lasell, and try to not highlight the worst stuff.”
Casella mentioned when she started working, BKS could discuss the Blue Light system, but with so many out of order now, the lights are “not even worth mentioning.”
Not all BKS members have withheld discussing the Blue Lights when giving tours on campus. Faith Costa, a BKS member that is currently studying abroad stated, “I was never told that I was not to bring up the Blue Light system on campus.”
Director of Admissions Operations and Events, Emily Stanley supervises BKS. Stanley said BKS members have a script on talking points when giving tours. She said most students opt out to talk about the lights due to them being out of order.
“But, you know, I told all of them, I was like, you know, even if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it, share your personal experience with safety on campus,” said Stanley. “Yeah, no, we never generally told them ‘don’t talk about it.’ Like it’s in the script. It’s there. It was their decision. It’s up to the individual tour guide.”
With both prospective and current students unaware of the current status of the system, Manning and Chief Robert Shea have taken over the responsibility of maintaining the Blue Lights.
“It also has some not technology, but service issues where they’re very high maintenance. They take a lot of service. They’re outside, they’re in the weather, they’re out there in the elements. So it does take some upkeep and with upkeep comes other things,” said Manning.
Right now, the team of two have been looking into phone security applications for students. “Anything that we can do to enhance safety is good… it’s one thing to talk, it’s one thing to plan. It’s one thing to make a decision, and another thing is finance, and resources,” said Manning.
Last year’s Student Government Association’s Vice President of Financial Affairs, Kaylie Silva said “I know money became an issue with it, like money was a huge part of why it wasn’t coming out.” Silva said they planned on rolling out a mobile app for fall 2022, but “that obviously hasn’t happened.”
Silva said, “We made the point of saying, well, if someone is, like in the garage, they can’t access their phone because they don’t have service. So if something were to happen in the garage, like they’re screwed… we can’t just rely on our phones.”
Though it hasn’t always been fully operational, there has been successful use of the system in the past.
The Central Lot Blue Light in front of de Witt Hall was fixed after the publishing of the first blue light article in May 2021. In October of 2021, Shea described a domestic incident during the summer that resulted in a student having to utilize the Blue Lights.
Manning mentioned that same instance ended up leading to a successful arrest.
Despite the success of the working system, Manning believes a well trained public safety unit is more important. “So nothing to me can take the place of having a well-run professional, accountable, public safety agency on campus,” said Manning. “All the other things that can go into play are enhancements, right? You still need a well trained modern, human aspect to public safety on campus.”
Casella made a point to bring up the physical safety net of on-campus public safety officers. “Even though, like, I feel like our campus is, you know, pretty safe ‘cause of the neighborhood that we’re in, it’s still just safety in mind, just to let your mind rest at ease being like, if anything, I have this available to me.”