Braden Wade/ The Bison
The emergency blue phone have three locations on campus.
Oklahoma Baptist University’s signature green and gold has been speckled with brilliant blue since the start of the fall 2019 semester.
The sources of this new shade of security are the three new emergency blue-light phones: devices that allow campus police to be contacted with the click of a button.
The phones – located on the sidewalks near the WMU/Kerr park- ing lot, by the stairs of Shawnee Hall and by the Art Building – were added to create more security tools for students.
But the implementation of these phones has some students questioning how the placement of these emergency de- vices has made OBU safer for all residents.
Sophomore nursing major Olivia Parent discussed how her feelings of safety on campus have changed since the installment of the emergency blue-light phones.
“It doesn’t make much of a difference for me – because most of the time when I am out late, I’m nowhere near the phones,” Parent said.
Although the res- idents of WMU and Kerr are only 200 feet away from the nearest emergency phone, those living in Agee are over 1,200 feet away, students of Taylor are 900 feet away, and the residents of the Village Apartments are over 1,700 feet away from the emergency phone nearest to them.
David Shannon, Chief of the OBU Police Department, was part of the committee that decided to add the emergency blue-light phones to campus. Shannon said that the placement of the first three phones was: “Just [a decision] to start.”
“I’m sure there’s going to be more phones that are go- ing to be installed over time,” said Shannon.
The committee is “work- ing on” a fourth emergency blue-light phone that will be placed by the gravel parking lot near the Village Apart-
The installment of this
phone would make the farthest distance 750 feet from any residence hall to an emergency phone.
But location isn’t the sole question at hand; why is OBU purchasing the emergency towers if other universities are starting to remove them from their campuses?
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, schools like The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and The University of Georgia have already removed all of their emergency blue-light phones from campus.
In the case of UNL, the phones were being used for prank calls rather than emergencies.
The size of OBU is also vastly different from larger state schools, so population size was also a factor in determining the phones’ installation and placement.
Some students have ex- pressed appreciation for the emergency phones.
“I support a university taking any steps toward greater safety,” sophomore Katie Simmons said. “Even if these phones only help one person while they are in use, then it is worth it. It comforts me to know safety concerns are taken seriously and solutions put into practice.”
Shannon suggested all students prepare in at least one way.
“You know, we always suggest putting our cell phone number in their cell phone, but always, if nothing else, call 911,” said Shannon.
“Our police department monitors Shawnee’s frequency. So if their officers are dispatched, we’re not only going to hear it, Shawnee PD is going to contact us and notify us that they had units responding to campus.”
If you ever find your- self in an emergency situation and far from an emergency blue-light phone, dial the OBU Po- lice Department at 405- 878-6000 or 911 for help.
Emergency phones because they cost the university $1.7 mil- lion in installation and repairs for the 15 years that they were on campus.
This begs the question of why OBU is installing these phones after they’ve been determined more problematic than helpful in providing security on larger campuses.
Shannon discussed the differences in the safety of cam- pus since the implementation of the emergency blue-light phones.
“I believe anything that’s security oriented, anything that we can do to make students safer…” said Shannon, “the university is pushing towards that”