William Paterson University has mobilized its emergency blue light system. The university police are removing many physical emergency phone stands and directing students to Rave Guardian, a recently-launched mobile safety app.
The blue phone stands around campus serve the students and faculty members as an emergency support system. Pressing the button on the phones calls the campus police, who assist students with various issues. Those issues can be something as simple as jump starting a car or as urgent as providing help in a medical emergency. Students who feel scared to walk alone may also use the blue light system to contact an officer who will walk with them.
Most university campuses have emergency phone stands, but in an age where almost every student carries a cell phone, these stands aren’t the most convenient option in the face of an emergency.
William Paterson University had a total of 90 blue phones when the blue phone system was introduced to the campus. The university does a maintenance check of the phones every month.
Some phones produce a static sound that makes communication difficult or have a broken light, making them nearly invisible in the dark. Fortunately, there are no reports of students being harmed in emergency situations as a result. According to Officer Joseph Castro of the Community Policies Department, any signal from the phones elicits a reaction.
“If no one is on the other line or if the dispatcher doesn’t get someone to respond, we still have to arrive,” he said. “Less than 30% of the time there was no one at arrival.”
Repairing these phones can be burdensome due to the cost and time it takes.
“When the phones break, we have to deal with three different vendors in order to get them fixed,” said Officer Castro. “There’s a vendor for the communication wiring which goes to the headquarters, there’s a vendor for the physical phone and another vendor for the installation of the phone stand.”
There are about 40 blue phones left on campus, according to Officer Castro. He said that the university will remove the broken phones instead of repairing them, and leave the working ones operating.
Officer Castro is optimistic about the new safety app.
“It’s like carrying the blue phone with you at all times,” he said. “If something does occur, [someone on campus] has everything at their fingertips instead of running to a phone that may or may not work.”
A sophomore who recently transferred from Bergen Community College supports the university’s decision to keep some blue phones on campus.
“What if your phone dies and you’re being chased?” she said. “This is a huge campus, but I do think it’s better to have the app.”
The officers at the Community Policies Department are eager to show students how to use Rave Guardian. Although it is a fairly new addition to the campus, the Rave Guardian app will keep students connected and safe. The app also has several features such as “discretely contact university police,” “stay informed” and “never travel alone.”
Officer Castro believes informing students about the Rave Guardian app and encouraging students to download it should be a part of orientation for new students, for current students and faculty.
Several flyers are posted around campus and can be found at the Community Policies Department with instructions on how students can download and use the Rave Guardian app.