Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

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Title:Blue Lights: Twinkling Stars of Safety or Pillars of Antiquity?
Author(s):Leannais, Elyse
Campus Phones
Emergency Response
ANTH285 F07
Abstract:In this paper, I discuss the results of an ethnographic project about the effectiveness of the emergency telephones (blue lights) at Illinois State University (ISU). Using interviews with four students and the chief of the ISU police and a comparative analysis of university websites. I show that there are very contradicting ideas on the effectiveness of the emergency telephones on the Illinois State campus. Students on campus are largely unaware of the emergency phones and doubt their effectiveness. However, I found very different opinions when interviewing the chief of police. Even though the students felt as if the emergency phones were ineffective they still felt safer by their presence. Based on these preliminary findings, I argue that the emergency phones are not actually effective tools they are instead very effective symbols of safety. Their presence is also a selling point of the university. I recommend that the university, if they wish the emergency phones to be effective tools, should make the student body more aware of the emergency phone and how they work.
Issue Date:2008-03-04
Publication Status:unpublished
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-03-04

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • Student Communities and Culture
    The university offers an extraordinary opportunity to study and document student communities, life, and culture. This collection includes research on the activities, clubs, and durable social networks that comprise sometimes the greater portion of the university experience for students.
  • The University and the Community
    This collection of student research interrogates the relationships between the university and the local community.

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