By Nicole Shepard with Camillia Stimpson, News Writers
With the closure of many of the school’s emergency exists because of construction on the new Student Life and Wellness Building, worry over limited cell phone service around major traffic areas of campus is increasing.
“We understand that this is an issue,” said Jim Michaelis, associate vice president of facilities and planning. “Especially in the event of an emergency, and we’re working on rectifying the issue.”
This issue goes beyond the inconvenience of dropped calls and inconsistent Internet access as noted by many students. Compacted with the construction site closing up many of the entrances and exists around campus, questions of safety in the event of an emergency have arisen.
“I’m not really concerned,” said student Celeste Weyandt about potential emergencies on campus. “Some are not likely and others are rare. I’m not going to live my life in fear.”
Many students admit they are not terribly worried about an armed intruder on campus. When asked what they would do in other dangerous situations, many admitted that being trapped after a natural disaster or an unexpected medical emergency of a classmate does worry them.
“In an emergency, I honestly have no clue what I would end up doing,” said student Tori Cromer. “In the event that I was injured, I’d probably just end up dying. That’s just my luck.”
But many students and faculty question our reliance on cell phones.
“[I would] use my instincts. Do what we did before the marvelous dawn of cell phones,” Weyandt said of the possible dangers.
There are other options the university plans to implement.
“The other thing that we are looking at doing is that we are working to change out all the fire alarms to have annunciators on them,” Michaelis said. “That way they would act as a PA system, so if we were to have a situation where we needed to contact people immediately we could.”
With cell service dead spots focused primarily from the Sorensen Student Center to the library, many students wonder why the problem areas are so specific.
“The newer buildings are [built with what is] called LEED Silver, which means they are very energy efficient. And the new glass we put in . . . have little specks of silver in them and that’s what’s blocking the cell service,” Michaelis said.
Another effort the university is making to solve the cell service problem is to install what are called “repeaters,” or small cell towers that can be inserted into the school itself. But, the installation of repeaters would take at least a year, possibly longer, providing that the various cell carriers agree to install their towers.
As for now, the university encourages students to use a reasonable amount of caution, and in the case of an emergency to maintain calm and order to decrease the chances of escalated problems.