Unused blue emergency lights cost University about $5,000 annually

CSU’s blue light emergency call boxes are available for use on campus, but they are infrequently used or unseen by students.

In the last ten years, a blue light emergency call box has only been used once for an emergency call, according to CSU Police Department records.


CSUPD does not track non-emergency calls on the devices, but they are often malfunctions or hang-ups unaffiliated with an emergency, wrote Dell Rae Ciaravola, CSU risk and public safety communications manager.

The “blue lights” are emergency telephones located across campus, easily identifiable by a blue light from their tops. When the button is pushed, the device automatically calls 911.

There are 64 blue lights across campus, and it costs roughly $5,000 annually to maintain the system, according to the Director of Academic Computing and Networking Services, Scott Baily.

When the blue lights fail, they are serviced by CSU Telecommunications, Baily wrote in an email to the Collegian.

Locations of the lights include near the University Center of the Arts building across from College Avenue, near the MAX across from Prospect Road and at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

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A vibrant blue emergency station is shown on Tuesday night near the Yates Hall. The stations are being questioned for their infrequent use. (Michael Berg | Collegian)


On the CSU campus, there is not currently talk of removing the blue light system, Dell Rae Ciaravola, the risk and public safety communications manager for CSU, wrote in an email to the Collegian.

“(The blue lights on CSU’s campus are) still in operation and serviced as needed,” CSU Police Chief Scott Harris wrote in an email to the Collegian. “There are no discussions to remove them.”

Austin Colter, a sophomore zoology major, said that he knew what the CSU blue lights are and that he does feel they are important to have on campus. However, when asked if he could name a location of a blue light, he paused to ask, “Is it still there?” before answering that he knew of one by the CSU Recreation Center.

According to an online article from the Daily Camera from 2014, CU Boulder’s student government pushed to remove their blue lights. The argument was that the cellphone now does what the blue light does, or did.


As of December 2015, CU Boulder campus police issued a statement explaining the removal of the blue light system. Most of the calls the police department received through the system were prank calls or hang-up calls. The CU police department reported receiving 90 percent of emergency calls via cell phone, according to an article published on CU’s website.

However, the CSU student government has not looked into removing the blue light system on campus.

Christina Vessa, Deputy Chief of Staff for ASCSU, wrote via email that the University Issues Committee did a light audit on campus last year to investigate the location of outdoor lights and to see if they worked or not. This audit did not look at blue lights specifically. She wrote that students have not come to ASCSU with concerns regarding the blue light system, nor has there been any student input on the system at this time.

CSUPD and Facilities Management conduct an exterior lighting survey once a year, according to the 2015 Safety Report from CSUPD. The survey also examines facility safety and security.

“I’ve never personally used (the blue lights), but I think they are a good option if, for example, you didn’t have a phone.”said Tanner Rohnke, junior applied computer sciences major. “I wonder if I would actually remember them in an emergency situation.”

Collegian reporter Rachel Telljohn can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @racheltelljohn.