Deprived of adequate information about efforts to boost campus safety, Georgetown students for weeks now have been wandering around, quite literally, in the dark.

Since students returned from winter break, several lampposts around Reiss and Dahlgren Quad have been nonfunctional. At a university that saw a spate of assaults and robberies just off campus last semester, this is unacceptable. Students should feel secure on and around our own campus – yet many of us do not. Only increased transparency and a willingness to discuss developments in important safety issues can remedy this important problem.

Late last November, the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission approved the Student Safety Advisory Board’s proposal to install three new streetlights off campus to increase safety for students. Although the administrators who helped the student board to make the proposal should be praised for their efforts, we cannot help but wonder if safety is really a priority for university officials when streetlights within Healy Gates remain unlit.

Another particularly pressing safety concern is the ongoing drama surrounding call boxes. A year and a half ago, Georgetown University hired SST, a Virginia-based security agency, to install new emergency call boxes at various locations on and around campus. Six months later, citing a variety of technical and logistical difficulties, university officials announced that the newly installed boxes would not be made operational until June of 2005.

Last November, administrators gave the company an ultimatum. They told SST to fix the boxes (some of which had never been made operational in the first place) or risk losing its nearly half-million dollar university contract. But weeks after the deadline, the state of the call box system remains unclear. The new boxes have been removed. But what’s the university’s next step? Students certainly don’t know.

All of this relates to a larger concern about safety on this campus: communication. The fact that the deadline for the call box ultimatum passed without a word from administrators, or that students have been walking in the dark under inoperable street lights for weeks without hearing of any plans for their repair, is extremely troubling.

The sad truth is that students have been left in the dark when it comes to these safety issues. Students deserve to know the status of negotiations with SST and when call boxes will be finally be operational. Administrators must work to strengthen their channels of communication with students and shed some light on these important issues.

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