By Maria Grzywa —

Before leaving the house, mom always says, “Look both ways before you cross the street and never talk to strangers.” Well, mom’s not here anymore and her advice can sometimes be thrown out the window as students head back to an exciting and active college environment.

However, it is extremely important for students to keep safety, especially safety at night, in mind as they peruse Menomonie.

A nationwide survey of college students this summer revealed that three in four students know someone who’s been affected by assault on campus. This holds true in Menomonie as two sexual assaults were reported within the first week of school.

In order to help maintain a safe environment, Stout was added to the list of campuses to receive access to BlueLight, an app that improves everyday safety and connects students to the fastest emergency help.

University of Wisconsin–Stout was chosen to be a campus to have access to BlueLight because it was requested by multiple students on campus. As BlueLight requests are received it is noted and once a certain number of requests come in, the app become accessible to students on said campus. According the BlueLight Representative Cecilia Marshall, multiple requests were received on behalf of Stout; this goes to show how important safety is to our scholars, staff and community.

BlueLight is free to use for students as long as the university decides to pay for the product in full. Otherwise, a $9.99 fee per year is issued to students who choose to download and use BlueLight. Currently Stout does not pay for the app on behalf of students. This is said to change in the near future as more students become aware of the app and its use becomes more popular.

BlueLight is a safety tool for students to use at any time, day or night, to ensure the safest campus travel. To further explain the app’s use, let’s turn to Marge for an example. Marge is walking home at 1 a.m. and feels unsafe. She opens her BlueLight app to start an “on my way” which tracks her movement until the time she arrives at her inputted destination. She can also add an emergency contact that will be notified via text when she is ¾ of the way home and another alert once she has arrived.

If an emergency were to occur, Marge can press the “request help” button which will immediately contact the campus police department with the exact location of Marge. It will later alert the emergency contact that Marge requested help and it was sent.  

Marshall explained, “The reason BlueLight stands out amongst apps is that it is much more accurate on location if you request help than if you call 911 from a cell phone.” This tool is most beneficial on campuses because it will contact the nearest help in the fastest way possible.

Another key feature of the app is that it does not have to be open on the phone for students to utilize it. “We have an extension in the today view that you can pull down when the phone is closed and it has a large button that says request help,” clarified Marshall.

It is safe to say that BlueLight is student tested and most importantly mom approved.

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