Emergency Blue Phones at UConn: Are they reliable when it matters most?

One of UConn’s EBPs. Some students claim they do not work as intended. Photo by Ben Gingold/The Daily Campus

Emergency Blue Phones are an essential safety device found on college campuses across the United States, with the University of Connecticut being no exception. 

These safety devices are intended to provide a quick and easy way for students and faculty to call for help in the event of imminent danger or an emergency situation. 

The EBPs on UConn’s campus serve as a vital part of the university’s safety infrastructure. These phones serve as an important lifeline for students, staff or faculty who may be in the midst of a dangerous situation.  

EBPs are easy to spot, with their blue lights and prominent locations. There are also a plethora of these devices around campus, so no one part is left in the dark. 

According to UConn’s safety website, “The Emergency Blue Phones (EBP) are strategically placed throughout the campus and are designed to be an easily accessible means of communication in case of an emergency.” 

In an emergency, students theoretically can simply pick up the phone and be instantly connected with a trained dispatcher and police services. 

A UConn student named Jazlin, who declined to give their last name, had a personal experience with these EBPs, and claims they do not work as the school intends. One night, when Jazlin was walking home from class, she felt uncomfortable due to the presence of somebody she was unfamiliar with and used the EBP for help. 

Jazlin was lost and did not know how to navigate back to her dorm from where she was. With a lack of internet on her phone, Jazlin was left waiting for “nearly forty minutes” until law enforcement finally arrived at her location.  

Jazlin further elaborated on the severity of her situation by revealing she has type 1 diabetes, and this all took place as her blood sugar was actively lowering.  

“I waited a minute before they picked up the call and told them that I was a type 1 diabetic who had gotten lost and was unable to walk back to my residence because I had low blood sugar. I waited about 20 minutes for them to arrive, and it took around another 15 minutes to leave; all the while my blood sugar was heading continuously lower.” 

Jazlin’s response to the question of whether the blue safety phones serve their purpose is telling.  

“I believe the blue light system is simply a facade to make people feel like they are being actively protected,” Jazlin said. Though this claim is unsubstantiated, it suggests that the phones may not actually be reliable when it matters most. 

This testimonial exemplifies the importance these blue phones play in campus safety, especially for those with medical conditions.  

“It took a total wait time of almost 40 minutes.” 

Jazlin, UConn student

Within the midst of a medical emergency, every moment counts, and the delayed response time by police to help Jazlin may have caused her life to be in danger. 

If there are any issues with the EBP system, it can lead to a direct delay in police response time. If there is a delayed police response to an impending crime, officers may miss the opportunity to apprehend a criminal or give a student critical aid. Time is a crucial factor in many emergencies, and these phones are only efficient if they work swiftly. After this experience, Jazlin no longer feels safe on campus, even opting to purchase her own protection tools. 

According to UConn’s “Campus Safety Practices” page on their website, “The University of Connecticut Police Department takes a multi-layered approach to ensuring the safety and security of the campus community, and the Emergency Blue Phones are an important component of that approach.” 

The page further says that the UConn police department “tests and maintains the phones regularly to ensure they are always in working order, and encourages students and staff to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity.” 

Emergency Blue Phones are an essential safety feature on the University of Connecticut campus. According to the testimonials of many students, this safety feature is inefficient at protecting students.  

The Emergency Blue Phones (EBP) are a crucial safety feature on the University of Connecticut campus. Though many may question their reliability, both university and law enforcement officials continue to emphasize the importance of these safety devices. 


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