Streetlight effort reignited with efforts from sorority, student senate

Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and student senate are in the process of gathering signatures and support to place a streetlight at the corner of Ninth and Elm streets on the sorority’s property to brighten the area and promote student safety.

Michelle Pressgrove, Zeta Tau Alpha president, said Ninth Street, which runs between the sorority house and Irwin Hall, and Elm Street, which runs past Collins House and the sorority, has been a safety concern for the past couple of years because the corner is not well-lit at night.

“There’s a block that’s pretty dark and we just wanted to make sure that our new members could walk safely to and from the house,” she said.

Pressgrove said the sorority has gathered over 150 signatures from people in the Baldwin City and Baker communities who are affected by the dark street.

“It’s not just parents and members of the house, but it’s also some of our alums and people who actually belong to Baldwin City that live in the same area as we do,” she said. “We already have a parent who talked to (University President) Pat Long about this, and she agreed to make sure to be behind this and that we get faculty signatures as well.”

Freshman Class Vice President Reina Murphy, who oversees the community issues committee, said student senate took over the project to encourage more student participation. Murphy said she’s working in conjunction with Professor of Psychology Tony Brown who is also the chair of Baldwin City’s Public Safety Committee.

“I’m doing an all-around campus petition, then I’m going to write a request stating how this will affect the safety of persons in the area and present it to the safety committee before I take it to the actual city council,” she said.

Murphy said she had gathered 30 signatures. She said anyone interested in signing the petition could go to the student senate meeting at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Mabee Hall room 400. Murphy said she plans to take the request and petition to the Baldwin City Council meeting Oct. 15 or Nov. 5.

Brown said the addition of a streetlight for safety purposes is a legitimate request, but is one that citizens make often and is expensive to address.

“We do have a long-term plan for improving the quality of street lights throughout the city, but the changes have to be planned and built into the city’s budget,” he said. “We can discuss this request, but the chances of any immediate action on it are fairly limited.”

Junior Tricia Wernette’s mother, Julie Wernette, said she signed the petition when she visited for Family Day Sept. 22.

“I think the safety of these girls should be the No. 1 priority for the city and Baker University,” she said. “We walked it at night and it’s just very dark, creepy.”

Pressgrove said it would be worth the cost if the sorority had to pay to have a light installed and maintained.

“We’re willing to do anything it will take,” she said.