Lack of emergency button sparks discussion

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By Nicole Aimone

Feb. 17, 2016

There’s no emergency button in the campus’ west side “six-pack” of residence halls – and both Whitewater Student Government (WSG) and Residence Hall Association (RHA) see it as a dangerous practice.

WSG President Allison Hetz was the first to bring attention to the need for the box when she was a senator for the organization. She felt with the renovations to that side of campus, it was time to put a button there.

“It’s been too long, we’re updating and we’re building new residence halls, but we’re not protecting the ones that we have,” Hetz said.

With the emergency buttons, the UW-Whitewater Police Services Department can track when and where the buttons are used and help a person in need more efficiently.

Because there is no button near the complex of Benson, Arey, Fricker, Lee, Bigelow and Clem, a person in danger may be untraceable to the police while in that area.

The ability to have Police Services track the person in danger is one of the reasons WSG and RHA have been concerned.

“Even if they’re not used as much, I’d much rather have one there before it’s needed as opposed to after something horrible happens,” Hetz said.

In efforts to get the box implemented, WSG has started an Ad Hoc Safety committee. The members have been distributing information to RHA about the need for the emergency button.

The cost of a new emergency button is estimated at around $10,000.

This is a hurdle for the groups in favor of the box, as it is not yet clear whether WSG, RHA or UW-Whitewater would provide any funds for the box.

“I personally think $10,000 for an investment to stop one person from getting assaulted is worth it,” RHA President Danny Marzhal said.

RHA has been trying to gather feedback from residents during discussions about the issue during weekly meetings, as in each residence hall’s respective LIT groups.

At an RHA meeting on Feb. 10, most LIT groups were in favor of putting a box in the “six pack;” however, overall opinions differed on the topic.

There were many suggestions for other options instead of the box; for example, call buttons inside of the residence halls front door where a person could go to call for help were brought up.

The idea was subject to rebuttal, suggesting students might be trapping themselves by going into the residence hall to call for help.

It was also suggested that more lights be added to the west side of campus as to improve visibility in the late hours.

Overall, nothing between WSG, RHA and the university is finalized and the topic is still being discussed.

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