UNM making changes for safety reasons

Posted at: 04/22/2013 6:30 PM
Updated at: 04/22/2013 6:32 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Gropings and reported sexual assaults are among recent safety concerns on UNM's campus.

In response, students have been making suggestions and then university has been stepping up improvements.

UNM officials said lighting around campus is one of the areas they are making progress.

KOB Eyewitness News 4 was in the heart of central campus, around 9:30 Thursday night.

Students had just gotten out of their last class and appeared as dark shadows from a distance.

UNM officials said the area near the duck pond on campus is actually illuminated by new LED lights, making it brighter than it has been in the past.

"I didn't notice that but now that you say that, I think it's good, it's better," Carlos Contreras, a student, said.

"I just feel there should be more lights," Hari Nair, another student, said.  "It's kinda psychological; if you see there's more lights, you assume there's nobody prowling around in the dark."

"I would never come here alone at night," another student said.  "It's too dark."

KOB then videotaped that same area near the duck pond to see what it looks like during daylight hours.

The area was packed with students who shared fewer safety concerns, but still recognized they would not feel the same way at night.

"After like 10 p.m., it's a little bit iffy," one student said.

"It's definitely not as well-lit as I would hope," another student said.

A few months ago a student was walking toward a bus stop on Central Avenue when she was reportedly groped.  Students told KOB the bus stops are areas where they would like to see even more security improvements.

"We'll never be able to light the whole campus so that there's not any dark spots on campus," Gary Smith, associate director of UNM's physical plant department, said.  "People have to take personal responsibility and walk in well-lit areas, and we feel like we've provided those now."

With officers also patrolling around-the-clock, it is still impossible to say there cannot or will not be future incidents, but one thing is for sure.

"We are doing a lot of preventative measures to try to keep that from happening," Lt. Tim Stump, with the UNM police department, said.

Back in February, KOB did a story about the effectiveness of the safety escort service on campus.

Since then, UNM police said, the number of students calling for rides at night has gone up significantly.

Plans are in the works for more lights to be installed.