Student Government launches Patriot Protection Program, commences first phase with installation of lights
BY LIANNA BROWN NEWS EDITOR
In October, Student Government voted to fund the first phase of the Patriot Protection Program. The program aims to improve safety at Mason and the first phase includes plans to improve lighting on campus. In the initiative report, Student Government senator Ransom Fox explained that “the goal of this project is to increase campus safety and alleviate worrisome safety concerns in an appropriate and efficient manner.”
The Patriot Protection Program is an initiative with other Student Government senators and students outside student government working to ensure safety on Mason’s campus. In an interview, Fox explained that in 2018 Mason reported more crime than many other universities in the country, which made him want to start the initiative.
Fox explained that when looking to address the issue of crime, Student Government analyzed a report by the University of Chicago which showed that increased lighting led to a 36 percent decrease in crime. This led to the first phase of the initiative, the installation of lights across campus.
As part of the first step, on Dec. 5 students worked in shifts to begin installing the lights across campus, focusing on areas that were previously adequately lit. The students installed 90 lights at the Aquatic and Fitness Center, 25 at the Grove and 30 at Tidewater Hall. After winter break, students will install more lights in other areas of campus. Student Government is also working with Mason Facilities to install larger lights across campus, including at the AFC.
The lights the students installed are small, but when grouped together they are very bright and light the areas well. The lights are also solar-panel charged, so they are better for the environment and have low construction costs.
Fox explained that the areas were chosen based on how well-lit they were, and where students may have felt unsafe.
“We put [the lights] at Tidewater [because] there’s a really shady path, where now it’s brightened up. It was pitch-black there and it’s not going to be like that anymore,” he said. “The Grove is a new area that Student Government worked with Facilities to build, and it’s a cool hang out spot but it gets really dark at night, so we put lights around all the benches and now people can hang there 24/7.”
The students worked in groups of 25 or less to be compliant with Governor Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 guidelines. In an interview, Fox explained that the event had good attendance, despite the COVID-19 guideline restrictions.
“We had so many volunteers, so people were only putting up about two to three lights, so we got out in only 25 minutes instead of the whole hour shift,” he said. “It was cold, and a little rainy, so the fact that people still showed up despite that shows that there’s a lot of energy behind this movement. No matter who we are, no matter our differences, we can come together with a common goal, this goal being staying safe on campus.”
Fox explained that Student Government believed the lights were a good investment, as they will make students feel safe, hopefully decrease crime and will last a long time.
“We spent $529.60 and got 192 solar panel lights, and we felt like that was a great deal,” he said. “If we can barely spend any of our [budget] for something that is going to be very long-lasting, then we feel like that’s a good investment.”
The next two phases of the Patriot Protection Program will be completed over a longer period of time. Step two includes the installation of additional security cameras across campus, and the third step includes forming better relations between the Mason community and the Mason police.