On Wednesday, students and residents of South Bethlehem were encouraged to keep their porch lights on throughout an event to make the off campus area a safer place for all.
“Light Up Off Campus,” an annual event put on by the Student Senate, targeted the homes on East Fifth and Hillside streets and other prominent off campus areas in an effort to make the entire off-campus Lehigh community a brighter, safer area.
The event was sponsored by local landlords, such as Louis Intile and James Byszewski; the Lehigh Police Department; the Greek community; Student Senate and the Office of Community and Regional Affairs. Forty volunteers walked door-to-door encouraging residents and students to keep all porch lights on in order to keep the streets safe and the crime rate down.
Student Senate President Kerry Mallett, ’15, said this year the event aims to improve off-campus safety by putting the safety back into student’s hands.
“Yes, things happen, but there are ways you can prevent it,” she said. “Statistically if you don’t walk alone at night, keep lights on, this can create a safer environment for everyone.”
The Lehigh Police Department explained that although cameras have been installed in many of these off-campus residential areas, they are more effective with surrounding lights. Criminals tend to seek out homes that are dark, and therefore simply keeping porch lights on is an easy and effective action.
Intile explained that although many of the homes have both front and back porch lights, residents neglect to turn on the lights. Concerned about increasing the safety of off campus neighborhoods, he hoped that the annual event would reduce the crime rate even further.
Student Senate member Dylan Ross, ’16, echoed Intile’s sentiments.
“These lights have the ability to provide extra home safety for students when walking at night alone, or even with a group,” Ross said. “The improvement in night time vision can help get someone home more safely and even more comfortably.”
Volunteers knocked on dozens of doors encouraging students to not only turn their porch lights on but also to keep them on every night in the future. Others that did not have lights at all were given light bulbs that were offered in an assortment of sizes to ensure that they could be safe as well.
The volunteers provided residents with magnets for their refrigerators that can be scanned with a cell phone and provide residents with important phone numbers to call, including the Lehigh Police Department, in case of an off-campus emergency. Reminder stickers to turn lights on were also given out, as well as information regarding the new Lehigh EmergenSee app.
“It was awesome to see such a great turnout from not only Student Senate but other student organizations including Greeks,” said Juliana DeMaria, ’18, a member of the Student Senate. “The off-campus community was very responsive to the light bulbs.”