Emergency phones ignored

Passersby neglect landlines located in buildings

By Roxana Amparo, Associate Editor

In the age of cell phones, students question whether landlines are easier to access than the device in their pocket in case of an emergency.

The 22 red emergency phones are located inside campus buildings for students to use in case of an emergency or to request an police aide escort on campus.

“I wouldn’t use them. I’d walk,” Jelaine Maestas, a Middle College High School student, said. “They could be useful if people knew about them though.”

The locations of the emergency phones include three in the Applied Arts Building, two in the Liberal Arts Building, one in the Health Sciences Building, three in the two Physical Sciences buildings, one in the Biology Building, two in the Art Building, one in the Computer Technology Center, four in the Automotive Technology Building, one in the Early Learning Center, one in the Gymnasium, two in Gym Annex Building and one in the Knox Center.

There are no emergency phones located in the Library and Learning Resource Center, the Student Services Center or the Music Building.

Technology Systems Manager James Eyestone said when picking up any of the emergency phones, Police Services is automatically dialed. Before the emergency phones were updated, about two years ago, students had to dial a number they wanted to call, he said.

Some of the emergency phones have a sign or photo by them with emergency phone numbers taped to the wall, while others simply hang in the buildings with no attached information about how to use them.

Maestas said, “When you see that a phone is on the wall, you think of them more as a decoration stuck to the wall.”

The phones connect to Police Services without having to dial the numbers given on the paper.

Police aide Parmdeep Singh said, “Students use the phones to call for (escort) rides all of the time.”

Students request rides to their classes on a daily basis, Police Dispatcher Flora Gonzalez said. She works during the afternoons and has been present for many of the phone calls.

Corporal Tom Holt said, “The phones are used on occasion, but we don’t keep a record of how often they are used.”

When Police Services receives a call, they send out police aides or a police dispatcher depending on the situation, police aide Bryan Lopez said.

Communication major Cierra Ford said, “I don’t think a lot of students know what the phones are for. I didn’t know and I have been here for a while.”

Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said most everyone on campus has a cellphone that they would probably rather use than the emergency phones.

Although the idea of “phasing out” the emergency phones has been considered, District Police Services Chief Ed Carney said it doesn’t mean they should be taken down.

“Rather than not having the phones, I’d rather have them,” he said.

Ford said, “I think the first place students would turn is to their own phone, instead of searching for one around campus. And who’s to say the (campus) phone is even going to ring or if they (Police Services) are available to answer it,” Ford said.

There is a direct line to call Police Services available. It is 510-215-4858.

Carney said they are developing a project to make the emergency phones capable of two-way communication.

He said, “We are also researching ways to implement emergency phones in the classrooms.”

Before they were located inside of the buildings, campus emergency phones were placed at various areas outside on campus. On May 9, an Advocate reporter found an emergency phone that was out of service on the second floor of the LA Building. Singh said it was brought to their attention on May 5 and the phone line was found repaired on Friday.