Despite renovations, students feel unsafe

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Despite renovations, students feel unsafe

The sidewalk lights across campus were recently replaced with newer models that produce whiter light.

The sidewalk lights across campus were recently replaced with newer models that produce whiter light.


The sidewalk lights across campus were recently replaced with newer models that produce whiter light.



The sidewalk lights across campus were recently replaced with newer models that produce whiter light.

AMELIA DUAX, Staff Writer

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Over the summer of 2017, numerous changes were made to UNI’s campus, and some changes are currently right under students’ feet. Several underground projects were completed to help increase the functionality of the drainage system and the lighting of campus at night. Some of the renovations also targeted the issue of safety on campus.

Michael Zwanziger, the director of the Physical Plant Administration at UNI, was involved in the projects and was able to give more information on the specific renovations completed over the summer.

According to Zwanziger, in order to complete the renovations on campus, the ground was torn up and sod was put in place to restore the site. However, there were complaints from students across campus that claimed the new sprinkler systems were pointed at building walls and would occasionally spray students. Zwanziger explained the reasoning behind the placement of the sprinklers.

“Much of the turf disturbance was immediately next to buildings,” Zwanziger said. “When sod gets installed, it needs significant water to establish its root structure. Once the roots get established, the watering will discontinue.”

Zwanziger also said that there are large areas of sod that need to be adequately covered with water, therefore the sprinklers temporarily need to be aimed at the sodded areas, which consequently includes the building walls and sidewalks.

He said the past few months have been unusually dry, which has increased the need for watering the fresh sod.

Occasionally, the sprinkler heads will get hit and moved accidentally, which requires manual readjustment.

As for the lighting on campus, new streetlamps have been installed throughout campus. Some students at UNI had concerns about the lighting at night before the renovations. Despite the installation of the new lamps, a few students still feel that campus safety is an issue.

Danielle Templeton, a junior majoring in elementary education at UNI, gave her opinion on the improved lighting on campus.

“The ineffective lighting on campus can make for an uncomfortable walk during the night,” Templeton said. “The faulty lights did affect how I felt on campus. I think working lights [can] very well make some women more comfortable on campus at night.”

However, Templeton still has doubts about campus safety. According to Templeton, while the higher quality of lighting may give women a better sense of confidence on campus, she doesn’t think women are actually any safer now than before the renovations.

Another student with similar concerns was willing to share her view of the new light system. Nicole Valentine, a junior majoring in social work at UNI, said that as a freshman, she was taught how to stay safe on campus at night, and one of the big tips was to stay in well-lit areas.

“When there’s not lit areas on your walk home, it felt uncomfortable,” Valentine said. “The more I was on campus, I got used to it, but it was very uncomfortable at the beginning and I’m sure it is for a lot of girls on campus.”

Valentine said that while she approves of the renovated lights, she still feels that there is an issue with staying safe on campus at night.

“I think the money is worth it, to mainly give people peace of mind,” Valentine said. “The street lamps are a good starting point to make people, especially freshman, feel more comfortable on campus, but there is definitely more we could do.”

According to both Templeton and Valentine, most sexual assaults are believed to happen in dorms, so while the improved lighting does help women feel more comfortable, it does not help prevent assault from happening.

The funds that made both the drainage and lighting system renovations possible came from multiple sources, according to Zwanziger.

“The work in Department of Residence is funded through room and board rates,” Zwanziger said. “Work on general fund buildings is supported by general fund allocations, donations, grants and other sources. It is very project specific.”

Zwanziger also said that there are future renovations already being planned.

“The major project we are working on now is planning for renovations to the Industrial Technology Center, which was opened in the fall of 1975,” Zwanziger said. “The programs housed in this facility have outgrown the space and have additional infrastructure needs.”

According to Zwanziger, the Industrial and Technology Center is in need of maintenance to repair the heating and cooling systems and electrical systems. In addition to those systems, the exterior of the building, as well as the labs and classrooms, are in need of improvement.

Students can expect to see more renovations in the future that aim to improve the quality of UNI’s campus.

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