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Editorial: A better-lit campus is the first step to improving safety

In its emails, the Department of Public Safety routinely advises students to “travel on well-lit streets and throughways.” But how can students do this when there is insufficient lighting around campus?

When the 2021 DPS Community Survey Report asked undergraduate, graduate and medical students, as well as faculty and staff, what accommodations would make them feel safer, one answer dominated responses: increased lighting. Nearly three-quarters of surveyed undergraduate students, and 64% of total respondents, said that they would feel safer with better illumination on school grounds.

It is clear that University community members want a better-lit campus. Brown must take the necessary steps to meet these needs. 

Lighting issues are even more salient with the changing season, which brings the end of daylight saving time. During the winter, the sun sets over Providence before 5 p.m., which makes navigating Providence’s cobblestone paths, bumpy sidewalks and the incoming ice that much more difficult.


Nor do earlier sunsets mean a shorter school day. Students still have to venture out after dark to go to class, club meetings and various other extracurricular activities — or simply to get dinner. They deserve to feel safe while doing so. 

Students have expressed that Wriston Quadrangle, Ruth Simmons Quadrangle, the Quiet Green, George Street, the walk to Young Orchard and the north end of Prospect Street, near Machado House, are all areas that could use better lighting. 

Coordinators at Safewalk, which employs students to walk with their peers across campus at night, have also cited that as you move away from the center of campus, it generally gets progressively darker. Our campus should not have such limitations in its basic infrastructure.

John Vinson, deputy chief of police for DPS, has suggested building more walkways, increasing the number of blue light phones and removing shrubbery to alleviate community safety concerns. But these measures are not an adequate replacement for robust on-campus lighting. 

While the city of Providence is responsible for streetlights in the areas surrounding campus, the University has to do its part to improve lighting on Brown-owned pathways, especially around dorms.

As repeated student feedback clearly indicates, insufficient campus lighting is a problem that should not be taken lightly.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s Editorial Page Board. This editorial was written by its editor Johnny Ren ’23 and members Irene Chou ’23, Caroline Nash ’22.5, Augustus Bayard ’24, Devan Paul ’24 and Kate Waisel ’24.



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