Students spotlight safety needs in Thompson Woods

By Gus Bode

Though Ian Odigie says he’s a tough guy, walking through Thompson Woods at night from Neckers Hall to Morris Library is not something he enjoys.

“It’s like being in a closet with all the lights off,” he said.

Odigie, a graduate student from Nigeria studying biomedical engineering, said he makes the trip almost every night, and is one of many students who wants the university to reconsider adding lights to those trails.


Thompson Woods includes trails leading to Morris Library, Faner Hall, the Student Center, Forestry and Agriculture Buildings. Odigie said he overlooks signs recommending pedestrians take another path after dark because the alternative is a longer walk around the woods along Lincoln Drive.

The woods offer a direct route to the library and Student Center for Thompson Point residents, said Isiac Sullivan, a senior from Chicago studying information systems technology. Sullivan said he sits in the Student Center every night from 9 p.m. until midnight to use the wireless Internet for class assignments.

Last year, this dedication cost him comfort when he walked through the woods to his residence in Smith Hall.

“It seems like (campus police) neglect the woods,” Sullivan said.

SIUC Police Sgt. Bennie Vick said Saluki Patrol officers walk through the woods occasionally if they are in the area.

SIUC Police Chief Todd Sigler said light fixtures have been installed along a sidewalk behind the Agriculture Building, but there are no plans to expand the lights into the woods.

“This is an area that receives foot traffic between the library and Thompson Point,” Sigler said, but acknowledged he expected students would want more lighting in the woods.


Sigler said he and other university administrators conducted a “safety walk” this spring to familiarize themselves with areas students might find troubling. Those results, as well as the results of a similar walk two years ago, are a part of a safety plan, Sigler and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Larry Dietz said.

Sidewalks around SIU Arena and Saluki Drive near Abe Martin Field are also unlit.

The Physical Plant also conducts tests of the light poles on campus, said electrician Tom Reed, who was driving around the arena parking lots Monday. Reed said his department uses sensors to make sure light poles do not have breaks in their power lines. If such a break were to exist, it could electrocute someone if they were to touch the pole.

“It’s not like we do this every one or two weeks,” Reed said. “We do this when we have the free time.”

Justin Kozak, a graduate student from Berwin studying geography, said he feels safe on campus. Kozak said he frequently rides his bike home from night class in the Agriculture Building.

Moments after Kozak had said he felt safe, he turned his head toward the sound of a car colliding with a road sign alerting drivers to yield to pedestrians on nearby Lincoln Drive.

“Well, except for maybe that,” he said.

Daily Egyptian reporter Barton Lorimor can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 263 or [email protected].