Out of order: All blue light emergency towers inoperative at Hornet Commons

Female residents express safety concerns


Mercy Sosa

An out of order sign on an emergency blue light tower at Hornet Commons April 29, 2023. This tower is one of seven that are not currently functioning at Hornet Commons, a student living facility at Sacramento State where multiple sexual assaults have taken place. (Photo taken by Emma Hall and graphic created in Canva by Mercy Sosa).

Peyton Sorosinski

All seven of the blue light emergency towers throughout Hornet Commons are out of order, causing female residents to be concerned about their safety. 

The blue lights are available for contacting campus police directly in emergency situations. By pressing the red button, the towers summon campus officers at the exact location of an emergency and record audio and video.

Sacramento State’s Police Department said they were aware of the lights at Hornet Commons not working.   

Story continues below the image.

All of the blue light emergency towers currently out of order at Hornet Commons, a student living facility on campus, April 29, 2023. These towers are located across the commons. Hornet Commons said they do not have a timeline on when they will work again. (Photos and graphic created in Canva by Emma Hall) (Emma Hall)

Hornet Commons is a student housing development serving about 1,100 upper-division and graduate students at Sac State. One sexual assault was reported at Hornet Commons last October and another in March of this year in a string of assaults that have been reported on and nearby campus since September 2022.      

Additionally, on May 12, Sac State PD also notified students of a reported incident of indecent exposure at Hornet Commons. Police are still looking for the suspect. 

Ashlee Green, a third-year history major, said she noticed the out of order signs recently while she was unloading her groceries. She said the buddy system is not the most practical safety method for her because her roommates have different schedules and her classmates do not live at Hornet Commons. 

As a result of the blue lights not working and the several sexual assaults that have happened at Hornet Commons, Green said she doesn’t feel as safe as she wants.

“When [the sexual assaults] started being reported that it was happening here, more and more, it was like: ‘What the hell is safe?’” Green said.

When [the sexual assaults] started being reported that it was happening here, more and more, it was like: ‘What the hell is safe?

— Ashlee Green

Residents like Green are calling for the blue lights to be fixed as soon as possible. 

“With how much we’re paying to be housed here and the tuition that we’re paying, the least they can do is make sure that a button on this potentially life saving piece of technology works; otherwise what is it doing here?” Green said. “Let’s figure out a solution. If the boxes are always breaking, let’s figure something else out.”

Fourth-year psychology student Olivia Goldwyn said the out of order emergency towers worried her. But she said living on a higher floor and taking additional safety precautions makes her feel safer. 

“Most of the time, I only travel when it’s daylight, when there’s plenty of people and plenty of bystanders who can help [if necessary],” Goldwyn said. “I tend to use the buddy system sometimes.” 

Second-year health science major Thukim Nguyen said she “loves the blue lights phones [emergency towers]” as someone who has walked home after night classes. However, since the lights have been out of order, Nguyen said she finds it scarier to walk around Hornet Commons. 

“I know these have been out for a while,” Nguyen said. “They said they were gonna fix [the towers] a couple days ago, but they are still out.” 

I know these have been out for a while. They said they were gonna fix [the towers] a couple days ago, but they are still out.

— Thukim Nguyen

Freshman psychology major Rhianna Fox said the out of order blue lights concern her because students like herself are unable to get a parking pass at Hornet Commons, causing her to park farther and walk home. 

“I’ve never had to use [the emergency towers] but at the very least I know they are there if I need to,” Fox said. “I feel a lot more secure.” 

GiGi Cooper, a second-year health science major, said the broken emergency towers also concerned her. Cooper said she parks far away from Hornet Commons and feels safer knowing the blue lights are there in case of an emergency. 

“Just because you hear about all of the stuff [sexual assaults] that happen on campus and then having them not work does bother me a little bit,” Cooper said. 

Fourth year biochemistry major Aystelle Agyepong said the emergency towers are beneficial to students, especially as concerns for student safety grow at Sac State and in the Sacramento area. To have them not work at Hornet Commons is concerning, she said.  

“It’s scary not having these emergency boxes working,” Agyepong said. “I think [the lights are] helpful. If something is going on, you can use them and I hear [campus police] answer really quickly.” 

Hornet Commons and Sac State PD did not give The State Hornet a timeframe as to when the blue lights would be fixed.