EDITORIAL: Increase safety measures on South Street
Thursday night saw the fifth instance this academic year of an unidentified male exposing himself to a Brandeis student in the vicinity of the University’s campus, according to an email Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan sent out to the student body on Friday. The bulk of these incidents transpired on the stretch of South Street from the entrance of the Foster Mods to the Wheelock and Shakespeare Roads.
This board is concerned with the repeated instances of indecent exposure on South Street, especially given the nature of the incident in its inherent potential to escalate from sexual harassment to sexual assault. While we recognize that there are ongoing investigations into these events — and that the Brandeis Department of Public Safety is working to apprehend the presumed singular suspect in conjunction with the Waltham Police Department — this board urges the University to inform students of all additional safety measures being implemented on the relevant segments of South Street and fund common-sense precautions to deter perpetrators and aid students.
Specifically, we ask the University to consider additional street lighting, safe-walk alarms such as blue light emergency call boxes and increased routine patrols of the area by the Brandeis or Waltham police, depending on the jurisdiction. The Brandeis power plant — near which the most recent incident took place, according to Callahan — along with the neighboring wooded area adjacent to the East parking lot are among the most poorly illuminated segments of South Street. The spacing between street lights increases drastically compared to the stretch of South Street between the entrance to the Foster Mods and Old South Street. Installing lighting in the East lot directed at the wooded areas and in the power plant would go a long way toward eliminating the conditions that have accompanied these incidents. While overhead street light installation is under the jurisdiction of the Waltham local government, the University absolutely can increase lighting on its own property.
Comparing the bureaucratic work and funding issues involved in installing lighting to decreased instances of exposure and increased safety around campus should constitute an easy choice; the University installed a street-level crosswalk last year, which has greatly aided safety crossing South Street, so adding lighting to increase student security late at night should easil be considered an even more worthwhile investment. While such bureaucratic work may prolong the wait for new installations, the University can at least publicly acknowledge the issue and inform students of any new plans.
Further, in the event of an incident of this nature occurring again, a blue light in the proximity would aid in accelerating emergency responses, thus increasing the chances of apprehending the suspect and potentially saving a student from a pursuer. Currently, the closest blue light on South Street to the Wheelock Road intersection is more than a fifth of a mile away. Installing a blue light at the entrance of the power plant would reduce this distance by more than half.
The multiple instances of indecent exposure near Brandeis’ campus in the last few months are troubling, to say the least. In this situation, this board urges the Brandeis University Public Safety Department to — in conjunction with the Waltham Police Department — instate additional security measures in the area of concern, including installing supplemental lighting and a safe walk alarm and increasing police patrols of the area.