UP refutes security phone system

By Matt James

One University Police officer says there is “no justification” to install a campus security phone system that might be on NIU’s campus by the 1989 fall semester.

The proposed system would link about 50 security phones with the University Police Department, where a UP dispatcher would respond to emergencies, complaints and questions.

Lisa Gunn, Student Associaton welfare adviser, said, “These phones would make the UPs more accessible to people who need them.”

Gunn, who proposed the concept to the SA senate, said the total cost for the phone system and installment would be about $60,000. Welfare committee members have been given maps to indicate their suggestions for phone placement, she said.

But UP Captain James Webster said the system “is proposing a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.” He said that since NIU has seen “no (recent) assaults and no one jumping out of bushes,” the phones should not be installed.

“Some campuses in larger cities have those kind of problems, but we’re fortunate at NIU because we don’t,” Webster said. “This kind of money can be better spent in other areas.”

He added that the phones could be targets for vandalism and “pranksters who might play games” with the system.

But Gunn said, “It’s a fact that there are a large number of assaults that go unreported.” She said a similar system installed at San Jose State University received about 25 calls a day, and assaults on that campus decreased.

The system could be funded through NIU student fees if a student referendum concerning a one-time, 2.5 cents per credit hour charge takes place and passes.

The referendum would be held at the same time as spring semester SA senate elections in January. If the referendum were to pass, the charge would be incurred during the 1989 fall semester.

Gunn said, “Hopefully, students will be concerned enough about their own safety to consider this a great investment. If the system is going to save one person from assault or attack, it’s worth it.”

She said she hopes to order the phones from the RAMTECH company in Rhode Island. “Fifty phones is not enough, but it’s a great number to start with. Anything less would defeat the purpose,” Gunn said.

“Two systems I researched had over 100 phones, and the campuses where they were in place were one-fifth the size of NIU,” she said.