Last Tuesday, Oct. 24, students and administrators embarked on the first of three lighting safety walks scheduled for this semester to assess the state of campus lighting.
Organized by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety and the Department of Public Safety and announced via email by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), the series of walks allows students the opportunity to have their “voice be heard about the future of lighting on campus.”
Lighting safety walks follow an ongoing discussion surrounding campus safety since the passing of Misrach Ewunetie ’24 in the fall of 2022. Unlike the University’s decision to expand security camera installations, increased lighting on campus has generally received wide support from students.
In a USG meeting last March, Director of Campus Safety and Health Kelly States confirmed that safety walks are conducted annually to evaluate the condition of outdoor lighting on campus. These walks have historically focused on maintenance, however, and were restricted primarily to residential areas. At the time, students also expressed concern that walks were conducted too early in the day, and did not accurately replicate lighting conditions in the middle of the night.
Despite this support, only three undergraduate students attended the first walk of this year's planned series — USG President Stephen Daniels ’24, USG Architect John Raulston Graham ’24, and William Li ’27.
The group walked through areas of campus east of Washington Road, with most residential buildings and some class buildings. The USG organized the event at night to more accurately replicate dark conditions where lighting matters.
The group, also including Kelly States, director of campus safety and health for the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), and Public Safety (PSAFE) officer Michael Michalski, focused on identifying dim, malfunctioning, or nonfunctional lights. Li also said that the group noticed a broken emergency blue light box, which immediately contacts PSAFE when pressed.
According to an email from University spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss to the ‘Prince’, work orders have been submitted to Facilities for repair of the University-controlled lighting and the blue light above the phone.
The group also identified two areas that may be candidates for additional lighting that will be brought back to the working group for assessment.
“Two areas that we discussed adding more lighting was a path circling Frick going to the Embodied Computation Lab and the bridge from the stadium into the plaza between Fine and Jadwin,” wrote Raulston Graham in an email.
Among increased lighting in strategic places, USG discussion has also centered around sustainability of lighting, light pollution, and types of efficient lighting. Li noted that his interest in astrophotography light pollution motivated him to attend last week’s lighting walk.
“I think there’s a common misconception that in order to have safer lighting, you need to have more lighting,” he said. “You can have better lighting that creates a sense of safety for people, while at the same time preventing that light from shining up into the night sky.”
He suggested that amber lighting rather than blue lighting, and lights that direct beams towards the ground rather than sideways or upwards may be possible options.
Li noted that this semester, he is working with Astrophysical Sciences Professor Gáspár Bakos to form a student group focused on finding alternative options for lighting at Princeton and providing specific suggestions for the University.
When asked why more students did not attend the walk, Li considered that the time commitment, late start time of 10:30 p.m., and cold weather may have affected participation.
The next two walks scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 2, and Tuesday, Nov. 7, will focus on areas between Elm Drive and Washington Road and areas west of Elm Drive.
Isabel Yip is a head News editor for the ‘Prince.’
Please send corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.