As daylight savings goes into effect and the days grow shorter, many BC students are now greeted by darkness when they leave their last class of the day. Darkness seems obvious because, well, the sun goes down around 5 p.m. now, but I didn’t say night, I said darkness. This distinction is important because it is quite unusual for a college campus to be so dark, especially one with a large number of running start students.
What I mean by the darkness is that our lighting on campus in atrociously inadequate. Wandering through campus after sundown brings the old Goosebumps franchise to mind, complete with a creepy voice saying “Don’t be afraid of the dark” before telling you a tale of horror, usually with something terrible emerging from the darkness. Halloween 2018 is in the past and I’m sick of being creeped out.
You walk across the dark landscape, either using your phone as a flashlight or enduring the large gaps between dim lamp posts. I have heard from women on campus reports of feeling jumpy or unsafe walking to their cars or bus stops, throwing threatened glances at every trashcan or odd shadow that they might encounter along the way. With Bellevue City council pushing to build a low barrier homeless men’s shelter adjacent to our campus, this lack of lighting will become a much more pressing issue moving forward.
Not only does the lack of lighting cause a safety concern in that way, but it also poses a risk for drivers and pedestrians alike. Want to wear your cool new black pants and matching black sweatshirt that so perfectly compliments the grey fall weather? Then you had better be prepared to run when you use our school’s crosswalks, because that’s the equivalent of invisibility mode without some sunlight to illuminate you.
Or did you have to schedule your last class and the start of your job a bit too close together and tend to be in a hurry when you leave? Well you had better just leave class a few minutes early because it is utterly unacceptable to speed when the crosswalks are this dark. Pedestrians have the right of way and they expect vehicles to see them and stop, even when wearing their trendy new black outfit. If you hit them, it is on you. So, you’d better just cut class a little early and drive under the speed limit. That is, until BC decides to light up its crosswalks and protect its students.
This is not the first time concern has been brought up over BC’s lighting. On Nov. 14, 2018, the school had its second annual “Light Up the Night” event which invites students, faculty, staff and decision makers to walk around the school grounds after sunset to evaluate, and start a conversation about safety concerns and challenges facing those on campus after dark.