Safety stroll presents some concerns

New lights illuminate the Barnett Hall area where a rape occurred in the bathroom in August.

Gideon Halpin, Staff Writer

On four evenings in mid-October, Santa Rosa Junior College faculty walked the campus to identify maintenance issues that require upkeep for a safer campus at night. 

The safety strolls’ main concerns were maintenance and addition of lighting, brush trimming and uneven walkways. Several teams walked the Santa Rosa campus, Shone Farm, Petaluma campus, Public Safety Training Center and Southwest Santa Rosa Center. District-wide they identified 232 items, most of which were external lights that had gone out.

Environmental Health & Safety Manager Doug Kuula led the annual expedition across the SRJC campuses, and once his team identified items, they prioritized them. “I give a list to electricians and workers and they knock them out,” Kuula said.

Kuula started safety strolls in 2013 and the faculty has continued them annually. The maintenance department invited all SRJC faculty members via email to participate in the stroll, of which 25 joined, in addition to a few student representatives. 

These campus walks incorporate the faculty by giving them a voice in campus up-keep, and also save SRJC funds that would otherwise go to outside consulting agencies.

Illuminating dark areas and improving line of sight are primary concerns for students’ sense of security. Veteran night-scholar Lauren Kolman advised, “Follow the lights.”

Proper lighting, trimmed brush and smooth walkways may be the extent of maintenance’s capabilities, but do not guarantee safety.  Student Government Assembly member Senay Debesay said of the campus at night; “It’s pretty safe, but nothing’s perfectly safe.”