Archive for Monday, September 28, 2009

Student-led group hopes to increase lighting near KU campus

Safety concerns arise in area between downtown, campus

Kansas University senior Elise Higgins, Topeka, is working with city officials and neighborhood and student groups to address the issue of poor lighting conditions between campus and downtown, specifically in the Oread neighborhood, to help make the area more safe. She is pictured Sept. 22 at the corner of 13th and Louisiana streets

Kansas University senior Elise Higgins, Topeka, is working with city officials and neighborhood and student groups to address the issue of poor lighting conditions between campus and downtown, specifically in the Oread neighborhood, to help make the area more safe. She is pictured Sept. 22 at the corner of 13th and Louisiana streets

September 28, 2009


Student-led group hopes to increase lighting near KU campus

A student is proposing a way to brighten up the often-dangerous streets between the KU campus and downtown Lawrence. Enlarge video

The area between downtown Lawrence and the Kansas University campus has proved to be popular for criminals, especially late at night. There are reports week after week of students and other people being robbed and attacked in the area.

"Walking home from Massachusetts Street at night can be a scary process, especially if you're a woman by yourself," said KU senior Elise Higgins. "It's a time when I always try to be on my phone or have my pepper spray or my keys handy, because I'm never sure what might happen."

The Student Senate community affairs director is fed up with the reports of violence and is spearheading an initiative that could one day help reduce the criminal activity east of campus. She’s scheduled a meeting of the minds - that includes top city administrators - in hopes of finding a way to improve lighting in the area.

"I want to make sure that women, when they're walking down to Massachusetts Street or when they're walking to a house party, don't have to worry about being sexually assaulted because someone can hide in the dark," said Higgins, 21. "I want for them to feel safe going about their business and to not have to worry about being assaulted."

More than a dozen robberies and multiple assaults have been reported on the streets of central Lawrence this year. Higgins said that lighting in the area has been a campaign issue among student leaders for years, but that no one has taken action on it until now.

Representatives of the Oread Neighborhood Association, the new Oread hotel development and multiple student groups also will participate in Wednesday’s meeting, to brainstorm the best way to improve student safety between Massachusetts and Louisiana streets and 11th and 17th streets, Higgins said.

Mark Thiel, assistant public works director for the city, said he wasn't sure what would come from the discussion, but said the group likely would talk about the possibility of a lighted walkway between campus and downtown.

Higgins said one concept being discussed is installing 3-foot tall pedestrian lights along the edge of sidewalks. While there are lights at intersections in the neighborhood, the area between the intersections is the concern.

"This is just an idea that we're exploring right now, but we think that it would be a really effective way to make the area safer for folks who are walking," said Higgins, of Topeka.


stlcards515 8 years, 5 months ago

I am very much in favor of this idea. It's been talked about for year here on campus. It goes well beyond people going to bars downtown or to house parties. It's about students who go to the library and leave late at night. That area is full of KU students who study late into the night.

Furthermore I can tell you as a resident of the Scholarship Halls at KU, the overflow parking lot for GSP/Corbin and the Schol Halls is a gravel lot at the corner of 12th and Louisiana, and it's a very very dark walk back to 14th and Alumni Pl. Plus the lights at the intersection have motion sensors on them so that when cars drive by it will turn on, however a human walking rarely triggers it to turn on, and even then it turns on after you've passed the intersection.

This is a necessity in this area.

d_prowess 8 years, 5 months ago

Great idea to get the Oread Inn involved. Some of the draw to that place could be the opportunity to walk from downtown to the hotel so they might be able to put some of their influence to addressing this need as well.

penguin 8 years, 5 months ago

This has been an issue that has floated around Student Senate and Student Senate elections platforms for 5-7 years. However, there is generally a lot of talk during the campaigns about solving this problem...and then nothing occurs the next year.

A large part of that problem is because of the disagreement in what entity (the City or KU) should pay for the lighting. This is a problem with roads too. I really hope that this issue can finally be addressed. However, I will not believe anything can/will occur until I see the lights actually installed.

1029 8 years, 5 months ago

There wouldn't be no crime if all them kids just carried a firearm while walking through the dark at night. I say lets listen to the constitution and start letting them kids use their right to defend themselves. KU should make it mandatory on enrollment. Like welcome to school, go over to that table and pick up your schedule, then go over there and get your student ID, then go over that table and pick out a firearm.

d_prowess 8 years, 5 months ago

I feel like campus is pretty well covered with cameras. I see those small, black camera stands all over. And it kind of makes you think that some of the trouble between the football and basketball team was probably caught on video that will never see the light of day!

Alexander Neighbors 8 years, 5 months ago

umm.. incase you people did not notice the last rape took place in the middle of the day........ I guess if you get more lights you can watch the rapes happen from a good distance away......

valgrlku 8 years, 5 months ago

One of the main issues is that the street blocks east of campus are long (especially along Kentucky and Tennessee), and consequently, any intersection street lights provide very little light while walking on the sidewalks.

I've lived here for 20 years and have always felt that the street lighting could be improved. My car was involved in a hit and run while parked on Mississippi St. near campus one evening, and I didn't even realize it until I drove downtown and parked after leaving work at Watson Library - it was so dark near campus that I couldn't see that someone had sideswiped my car (which had substantial damage).

If many of my neighbors didn't choose to leave on their porch lights, it would be even darker than it already is just east of campus. If one can't even see his/her own feet while walking on these sidewalks at night, it's too dark - plain and simple.

Janet Lowther 8 years, 5 months ago

The short pedestrian lights are a good idea, because the trees make traditional street lights pretty ineffective.

Of course, they aught to be paid for by those who benefit, not the city at large.

milehighhawk 8 years, 5 months ago


You're totally right. If the kids had guns, we wouldn't have problems.

A bunch of kids, with firearms, returning from downtown, in the dark....what could possibly go wrong?!

TheOriginalCA 8 years, 5 months ago

The Downtown Lawrence A$$ociation targets KU students and understandably so. They need to foot a large part of the bill for this. Somewhere along the line, KU should contribute financially as well. I am afraid that all this notion would do though is to delay the much needed security. Of course, conceal and carry would do wonders for this problem.

HogJiver 8 years, 5 months ago

I think it's about time students should start carrying concealed weapons. It's the law now. Blow a few robbers away and the problem will go away.

postfactumproductions 8 years, 5 months ago

I lived in the Oread neighborhood the whole 8 years I was in Lawrence. Loved the neighborhood, but hated how dark it was at night. The sidewalks are a complete joke. I don't know how many times I saw people stumble and fall because they couldn't see. I've seen bloody lips, broken noses, and broken arms because of the condition of the Oread sidewalks AND lack of light.

Also think about this.... with or without new lights muggings in that neighborhood are going to go way up once that hotel is operating. Where the gentrification goes, so does the crime. I see it all the time here in Chicago. The 'hip, gentrified' neighborhoods are the one with the most muggings.

Shocking fact: I actually feel A LOT safer, as a female, walking home late at night in Chicago than I EVER did in Lawrence.

The Oread Inn would do well to invest in providing a lighted pathway to downtown. Maybe one or two particular routes that they can advertise. If crime is low, sidewalks are kept up, and lighting is provided...people will be much more likely to stay at that hotel.

I'd hate to hear "oh honey, I don't want to stay at the Oread Inn. The sidewalks are horrible, it's too dark, and oh...the crime!"

The city of Lawrence, KU, and the Oread Inn should all chip in.

geekin_topekan 8 years, 5 months ago

"KU should make it (Conceal/Carry) mandatory on enrollment." ++++ Yeah. A gun in the middle of the Football/Basketball "fracas" would have been perfect. Especially with the gangsta attitudes that were demonstrated. We need to get guns under tighter control. Especially now that their advocates are becoming vocal about their desire to see gun violence on campuses.

kusp8 8 years, 5 months ago

kuslaves (Anonymous) says… "Here's an idea ku students…flashlights and cans of pepper spray, take the responsibility of safety for yourselves and stop holding society as a whole responsible for your safety, grow up already."

I'm hoping this was sarcasm. If not, then by your logic there should be no police force, everybody should have their own gun, oh and always have a bucket of water in case there's a fire.

Danimal 8 years, 5 months ago

Lawrence is the most poorly illuminated town I have ever lived in. The amount of lighting around campus has been woefully insufficient for years, hopefully this finally gets done.

gccs14r 8 years, 5 months ago

Great Britain has more surveillance cameras than just about anybody, but they appear to be merely for entertainment. Judging by the occasional footage that is released, there is no shortage of violent crime there.

If there are going to be new lights installed, they need to be more than 3' tall. Otherwise, criminals will still be able to hide in the bushes and attack people, and the victims still won't be able to provide a description, because everything from the waist up will be in darkness. Also, if lights are going to be installed, they'll need some shielding to keep from blasting the adjacent houses with light all night long.

WSstudent 8 years, 3 months ago

The lighting isn't JUST for KU students. It's for anyone who uses that area to walk, and while that mainly is KU students, everyone benefits from the extra safety. It isn't as though an attacker is going to ask to see your KU id before they attack. And KU students aren't whining, they are doing something about it. That something is getting lights installed. I mean, 9th street is creepy to be walking down at night, and given that dark comes at around 5 these days, that means you have to drive every where or have to stay at home all the time.

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