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Students to light up South Side

Students organizing Light Up Off Campus hope increased visibility will make South Side neighborhoods safer.

Lehigh students living off campus plan to distribute light bulbs to neighbors in hopes of making neighborhoods safer.

“If everyone kept their porch lights on at night, these neighborhoods would look brighter and feel safer to the students and the residents who live there,” says Andrew Callahan ‘14, a mechanical engineering major and chair of the campus outreach committee of the Student Senate that is organizing the Light Up Off Campus event.

“We’ll be knocking on doors to talk to residents about the benefits of keeping their lights on, as compared to the negligible increase in electricity consumption.”

Students participating in the program are also offering to replace any burned out light bulbs, Callahan said.

A successful track record

This year’s event, slated to begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, will revive a program that has been successful in the past.

“This program noticeably increased the brightness of the blocks we targeted,” Callahan said. “And since many of the residents in these neighborhoods are students who may not have been around when we did this program in the past, we thought it would be helpful to bring them this message again.”

Callahan said that local landlords Louis Intile and James Byszewski from Fifth Street Capital Partners have not only been supportive, but essential to the launch of this program.

“Three years ago,” Callahan said, “this whole program began with an idea that Mr. Intile had while tending to a tenant request one evening around the same time that the neighborhood had experienced a rash of burglaries.  He noticed that the dimly lit street didn’t help make students feel secure, and thought that keeping front porch lights on would help. Since then, they’ve worked with Lehigh students, and they donate the light bulbs each year we do this.”

Said Intile: “We have hundreds of tenants in the neighborhoods surrounding Lehigh and we hear from many of them after these Light Up Off Campus events that they are much more comfortable walking in these areas at night.”

Appreciative neighbors

Callahan said the neighborhood’s year-round residents appreciate the program’s contribution to safety.

“It also strengthens their relationships with students because it gives them first-hand exposure to Lehigh students working together for a good cause.”

The program will kick off with a gathering of volunteers at the parking lot on the corner of Webster and East Fifth streets. Jason Schiffer, chief of the Bethlehem Police Department, will speak, and other local office holders will attend. Volunteers will be given light bulbs and instructed to walk through neighborhoods in groups of three or four.

“Right now, we have most of the Student Senate involved, and we’re hoping to engage various groups across campus,” Callahan said. “We want a strong show of support for this program and we hope to send a message to our neighbors off campus that we want to work together for safer neighborhoods.”

Those interested in participating should email insen@lehigh.edu or visit the event's sign-up page.

Story by Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Thursday, April 04, 2013

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