The blue light system on campus and the Hawkwatch app are resources available for students to utilize as safety precautions, particularly for walking home alone at night.
LUPD Officer Lora Martin said the best way for students to get home safely is to tell a friend or roommate that they are going to be walking home, so they know to look out for them.
“You could use the Hawkwatch app, where you can do the virtual friend walk, and a friend can track you, or the virtual walk home, where the dispatch watches you,” Martin said.
Martin said the Hawkwatch app can be used in addition to other safety measures.
She said there is a difference between the physical blue lights on campus and the blue lights on the app.
“There’s about 164 blue lights on campus, and they are being painted blue because they are brown and can blend in with the background,” she said. “We want to make sure they’re visible. Once it’s hit, we get a notification and it’s kind of like a GPS. With the blue light on the Hawkwatch app, you could be anywhere, and by clicking the mobile blue light, it will contact the dispatcher and give your location in real time. “
Martin said at the very minimum, students should share their location because it’s crucial for the police to track them if they feel unsafe.
Renee Reiner, ’19, ’20G, has some experience using the Hawkwatch app and spent this past summer living on campus without roommates. While she has never used the blue light system, she said she began using the Hawkwatch app to help her feel safer this summer.
“Through the Hawkwatch app, I recorded that I was living here this summer so that the police could patrol the area more often,” Reiner said. “Once I would park my car at night, I would use the Hawkwatch app to record that I was walking from my car to my apartment.”
Reiner said she feels safe as a Lehigh student, however, with recent crimes and related incidents, she was not as comfortable walking alone at night.
Reiner said the app is reliable and she felt more comfortable when she used it.
“The app is very easy to use and it was effective,” she said. “One time, I forgot to say I got to my destination, and the police actually followed up to make sure that I was okay. It was really reassuring to know that the police were actually monitoring my location.”
Carly Hecht, ’23, said even though she doesn’t feel unsafe, she likes the idea of having the police track her when she walks home alone at night.
“I try my best to never walk home alone at night,” Hecht said. “If I do, I always have someone on the phone or FaceTime.”
She has used the Hawkwatch app before with her friends.
“It’s really comfortable knowing that there are options out there to make sure I get home safe,” Hecht said.