Safety Walk
UNM students take an active trole and jot down notes as part of the annual safety walk that helps identify potential safety hazards across campus.
Credit: Steve Carr

An hour of your time could help make The University of New Mexico campus safer for everyone. That is how long it takes to be part of the fall Campus Safety Walk, set for Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Coordinated through Student Affairs and the Dean of Students Office, the nighttime safety walk is a great way to see the campus in a different light, so to speak. It’s an opportunity to comb the campus after dark looking for hidden hazards, such burned out lights, too much vegetation or uneven sidewalks.

Clery Compliance Officer Rob Burford has been heading this effort for years. “It’s important for students because it gives them a say in how safe their campus is at night.” Burford said. “This is a community-wide event to identify what they perceive that needs updated or changed to address their concerns.”

All participants will meet in the SUB Ballroom B at 7 p.m. for a briefing by Burford. Then they’ll break into small groups of three to five people, armed with flashlights and clipboards, to exam a segment of campus for potential safety issues.

The event, which concludes within an hour, is open to anyone, not just students, but also faculty, staff, even community members. The goal is to have about 100 participants for the more than 30 segments of campus to be reviewed.

UNM’s Housing community is heavily involved in the safety walks each semester. All of the Resident Advisors (RAs) take part because the campus is their backyard. Residence Life Manager Megan Chibanga said they are asked to consider multiple perspectives in their review.

“We hope that because RAs live on campus and are here day and night, they are able to think beyond themselves and provide feedback which will benefit the whole campus community,” Chibanga said.

When the checklist is completed, Burford turns over the recommendations to the UNM Physical Plant Department, which then prioritizes the projects for repair, maintenance or installation.

Billy Hromas, manager of PPD Facilities Maintenance said his crews strive to complete these recommendations as soon as possible, ahead of other repair work because they know it is important for student safety. The maintenance staff also works closely with PPD Engineering & Energy Services to implement lighting projects that are suggested from the Campus Safety Walk.

“When the funding becomes available for large scale lighting projects, we have been converting older systems to LED technology. These fixtures not only improve lighting quality, they save energy and last longer.  PPD has spent about $241,000 on new LED systems in the last year to improve the outdoor lighting across campus,” he said.

Each fall, the safety walk is scheduled for shortly after the change from Daily Saving Time back to Standard Time. In past walks, students have noticed lights in some areas that needed to be switched on earlier due to the time change. Another safety walk will be held during the spring semester.

“The reason we do the walk in the fall and then again in the spring is to allow for follow up, so that students can provide feedback on whether the changes have made an area brighter, better, safer to walk through,” Burford said.

For more information on the walk, contact the Dean of Students Office at (505) 277-3361.