Emergency call boxes few, far between

By Gus Bode

Other universities have more per acre

Factoid:For a map of emergency call boxes across campus, visit www.dps.siu.edu.

Compared to other Illinois universities, SIUC has fewer emergency call boxes per acre. But plans are in the works to install more.


SIUC has15 call boxes scattered across high-traffic areas of campus, roughly one per 75 acres, but Todd Sigler, director of SIUC police, said the department plans to install four more at each end of the pedestrian bridges.

“No one event encouraged us to look into installing more boxes,” Sigler said. “It’s just a precautionary measure. We have wanted to add additional boxes for a long time. They act as a deterrent and are a big factor overall feeling of safety on campus. Someone can be walking and see them and just feel more secure.”

Of comparable universities, Eastern Illinois University has the highest concentration of boxes on campus, with about one per 16 acres. Northern Illinois University follows, with about one box per 21 acres and Western Illinois University has about one per 29 acres.

While it may seem as if emergency call boxes are few and far between at SIUC, Sigler said it is important to note that a large part of the main campus is relatively remote and has little foot traffic.

But if pedestrians must wander out of well-lit areas, Sigler suggests they never do it alone.

Freshman Kate Dibble agrees. She lives in Thompson Point and finds herself walking near areas of Thompson Woods on a weekly basis, but she said she never goes alone and is constantly aware of the nearest emergency box.

“Most of the time I don’t feel threatened or scared at all,” Dribble said. “But I don’t walk alone and if something ever happened I know where to go.”


But for some, walking alone is a necessary evil.

Emily Divan, a freshman in photography has three night classes and walks from the Communications Building to her room at University Hall almost nightly.

“I feel pretty safe,” Divan said. “I always see a lot of people. I don’t know exactly where the boxes are, but I have seen them and know they are there.”

The call boxes are yellow and attached to tall poles. When someone pushes the red button on a box a flashing blue light is activated and the call box automatically connects to the police dispatch. Sigler couldn’t estimate how many calls they receive monthly from the boxes, but said most are false alarms.

“Even if we don’t hear anything on the other end, we get an officer out there as soon as possible every time,” Sigler said. “For the most part it is just curious people who push the buttons, but you never know when someone really needs help.”