A petition to improve lighting in neighborhoods surrounding campus has been circling the Cal Poly community. The students who started the petition will be presenting it along with letters they have written to the San Luis Obispo City Council and Mayor Heidi Harmon at their meeting June 5.
“For me, this is something that has been on my mind all three years at Cal Poly,” child development junior Jessica Gallagher said. “I know a lot of times it’s hard to get the motivation to start something, so just having this push to something was a great motivating factor.”
Gallagher and liberal studies senior Emily Garner were inspired to start this project in their Gender, Race, Culture, Science and Technology class taught by comparative ethnic studies professor Leola
“Our teacher had inspired us to do a civic engagement project, and we were doing hypothetically, ‘What’s something you are passionate about?’” Garner said. “[Macmillan] was able to contact the mayor and get us in contact with the people that can actually make a change, and so it’s kind of developed into this bigger project and we’re super excited.”
Garner said while Harmon has been pushing for more lights around the city, they do not have enough support for the budget they need.
“So that’s really what we are going to be fighting for, is getting more money toward lighting and safety,” Garner said.
Lighting in San Luis Obispo has been an issue for quite some time.
“I’ve been living in [San Luis Obispo] for about a decade, and my husband was formerly faculty here, so for at least the last decade,” Macmillan said when asked how long she had been hearing about this issue.
Macmillan also pointed out that given the high incident rates of sexual assault on this campus, things like lighting are always an issue.
Gallagher and Garner were hoping for 100 signatures, but were blown away when they received more than 700 signatures in the first two days. The petition is available online.
“Just three weeks ago, I was studying until midnight at the library and I was walking home and I took out my phone and took out the camera to see if I could see any lighting within the camera, and it was just completely pitch black, which is terrifying,” Gallagher said. “[Students] shouldn’t have to worry about their safety, also that should be something that’s a right and not a privilege.”