Late night walks home are inevitably a part of every college student’s life, whether it’s a late night at the library or out with friends. For upperclassmen, this usually means a trek back to their off-campus housing and a well-lit walk can be paramount to that walk being safe.
This past spring, the Undergraduate Student Government put together a task force to examine the state of off-campus street lighting in areas populated by Ohio State students and its correlation with crime.
“We have in multiple years past received a lot of questions about this,” said Sunder Sai, who has now graduated but headed the task force in the spring. “I really wanted to take the approach of using hard data, numbers and research as a way to possibly influence policy.”
For Sai, arriving at the creation of this task force was personal and something he sought out with his position in student government.
“My sophomore year I was walking off campus on a dark street, and I was mugged and assaulted, and I had to be taken to the hospital,” he said. “I really just didn’t want anyone else to go through what I went through so I sort of used student government as a platform to enact change and focus on the issue of off-campus lighting.”
The task force was created and set out to learn how to do proper research in order to present a report based in numbers and not anecdotal evidence. This included preliminary reading of appropriate studies in the field as well as learning how to use lux meters to measure the amount of light in an area.
What the task force found, according to its report, is a definitive correlation between the amount of crime on an off-campus street and the amount of lighting on that street, with the poorer lit streets experiencing more instances of crime.
The task force came up with four main recommendations which focused around improving the lightning as well as the system for reporting faulty lighting. When making recommendations the task force took into account how financially demanding it can be to construct new light posts.
“What we found through our research is we might be able to look at this a different way. Maybe not put more light posts up but maybe reconsider the type of lighting used,” Sai said. “Also just updating light posts. We saw many outdated light posts that just weren’t proficient.”
In addition to cost-efficient upgrades to lighting the report recommends improving the process for reporting a faulty light post.
“When someone sees a light post is out they always wonder how to report it,” Sai said. “When we investigated that procedure we saw some issues there. Sometimes there wasn’t an accurate way to find out how to report.”
The university did not have specific comment on this report since it has not been formally presented with recommendations.
USG plans to present its findings formally to either the CIty of Columbus or Ohio State at some point this coming year, but it has not been able to yet since the study itself took longer than expected.
“The project took so long that it actually led up to the end of the school year,” Sai said. “This summer we have been discussing ways we would like to approach city council or the Ohio State administration.”