Emergency call boxes receive paint job

By Gus Bode

Four boxes installed on pedestrian overpasses

The brown poles scattered across campus that once held the yellow emergency call boxes are getting a coat of red paint, which officials hope will make the boxes more distinguishable.

SIU Police Director Todd Sigler said the decision to paint the poles came after he received an e-mail from a student expressing concern that the boxes were not very visible in the daylight.


Sigler said the brown poles blend in with the trees on campus, making them harder to see. He said after seeing red call boxes at another school he realized the University could make the boxes more noticeable.

“I thought that there was something we could do that would help make them standout more in contrast to the backdrop,” Sigler said.

Superintendent of building maintenance Scott Pike said physical plant workers began painting the poles two weeks ago and are about half way done. Pike said he does not know when the painting will be complete because they have to wait for temperatures to warm up.

In addition to the brighter poles, four new emergency call boxes have been installed at each end of the North and South pedestrian overpasses, bringing the total number of boxes on campus to 19.

When the emergency button on one of the call boxes is pushed a blue strobe light at the top of the box is activated and an emergency call is sent to telecommunicators at the SIU Police Department. Officers and squad cars are immediately dispatched to the location of the box, even if no one responds to the telecommunicators.

Prior to the installation of the four call boxes, there was no emergency phone service available near the overpasses.

Located between McAndrew Stadium and University Park, the South overpass was built in memory of SIU student Susan Schumake. Schumake was raped and murdered in 1981 while traveling what was once called the “Ho Chi Minh Trail,” a wooded area between U.S. Highway 51 and the railroad tracks, where the overpass now stands. The North overpass is situated between Anthony Hall and Brush Towers.


Executive Director of Administration Cathy Hagler said the four new call boxes cost the University $25, 600. Chancellor Walter Wendler funded $20,000 and the office of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management provided the other $5,600. The estimated cost of painting the poles is $1,500 to $1,600.

The new boxes are cellular, and receive their power from the lights positioned over the overpasses. This technology allows the telephone system in the call boxes to remain on in the event of power failure, in addition to saving the University money by eliminating the extra expense of having power lines installed.

Hagler said the administration wants to ensure anyone traveling the campus knows where the boxes are located.

“One of the things we are trying to do is make sure that students, faculty and staff, if they need assistance and needed to find a call box, that they were visually easy to locate,” Hagler said.

Reporter Ashley Richardson can be reached at [email protected]