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JCU makes plans to light the way

October 13th, 2011

Freshman Sarah Novak goes to Rodman Hall every week to meet with her Christian Life Communities group. By the time her meeting is over, she has to walk back to her residence halls in the dark. What doesn’t help, she said, is that the path she takes back has either minimal outdoor lighting or lights that don’t always work.

“You’re a girl and you’re walking around campus at midnight – it’s a little freaky,” Novak said.

Sophomore Kate Pifer had an embarrassing experience to describe how much light marks her path on campus.

“I was right in front of Pacelli [Hall] and I went to give my friend a hug, and I realized it wasn’t my friend,” she said.

Carol Dietz, John Carroll University’s associate vice president of facilities, said that as part of recent campus improvement projects, new lights have been in the works. During the summer, a consulting group came to campus to discuss housing, but also identified a need for additional campus lighting.

“New parking lot and sidewalk lighting will be installed in the new surface lot in the Bohannon [Science Center] footprint and along the Hamlin Quad as part of the project,” Dietz said via email. “These lights are LEDs. Students will find that they provide more light as well as being energy efficient.”

Following a meeting with students, according to Dietz, JCU President the Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J., told the facilities department of the need for a light in the area of Rodman Drive, between Rodman Hall and the O’Malley Center.

“Facilities is in the process of ordering and installing a new light fixture in this area,” Dietz said. “The lead time for this light is eight weeks, so it should be installed before the end of the semester.”

Assistant Director of Campus Safety Services Brian Hurd, along with Student Union senators from the Committee on Facilities and Security and Mike Roeder, JCU’s manager of facilities services, plan to walk through campus at night every semester and identify issues with lighting. Sophomore Student Union Senator Deirdre Byrne, who serves as chair of the Committee on Facilities and Security, said she hopes the walkthrough will take place in the coming weeks.

“What I heard [from students] was that the lights were flickering on and off, and they’re just inconsistent,” Byrne said. “[When students are] walking back from the library late at night, it’s really dark. It’s a question of safety.”

Dietz said the upcoming walkthrough will be a great time for students to give their input.

“Making our campus more attractive, comfortable and safer for our students is an important goal,” she said. “A collaborative process between the Student Union and [the] facilities [department] is a great way to address our needs.”

Development work to update lighting across campus was done in 2005, according to Dietz.

“This was before I joined John Carroll,” she said. “We have not looked at this lately. Attention to lighting has just recently surfaced as an interest.”

Recent campus construction projects, according to Hurd, has affected outdoor lighting.

“Some lighting has been removed and new is being added,” he said, “and the power was cut off in certain areas.”

The bottom line, according to Byrne, is that students feel safe when walking around campus.

“We want to find where students are walking at night and be able to make their walk a nice, [lit] walk,” she said. “[Students] pay to go to this school, they want to know that they are going be able to go back their dorm safely because that’s their home. This [entire] campus is their home.”