ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – University of New Mexico students didn’t feel safe going to their cars at night when they parked in the South Lot, so the student government did something about it.
The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico (ASUNM) initiated a project for more lights making it safer while also saving money.
Eden Santistevan is a senior at UNM and has parked in the South Lot since freshman year.
“I would be scared that someone would be hiding behind a car or in the shadows,” said Santistevan.
Students said it was the scariest parking lot at UNM once the sun went down, it was dark — almost pitch black in some areas.
“In fact, it was so dimly lit some of the football lights were kept on in order to throw some additional light to this parking lot at certain times,” said Robert Notary, Engineering & Energy Services, UNM PPD.
The student government said it received many complaints about the poor lighting, and it wanted students to feel safe.
“We’ve had a lot of instances of sexual assault and things happening on actual campus and we saw this as a really big threat to that,” said ASUNM Executive Director of Government Affairs Nathan Cowan.
Now, the number of lights in the South Lot has doubled.
“We built 19 new poles around the perimeter of the lot, which is usually where those dark places are, and where intimidating figures can hide,” said Cowan.
The LED lights are also more efficient, saving the university money over time.
“Both energy and cost have been reduced by 50 percent,” said Notary.
The project cost about $180,000. ASUNM received nearly $130,000 from the state, the remaining $60,000 came from UNM. But in a time where the budget is tight, the university said the lights were needed.
“If putting lights in the parking lot allow them to take the class at night they need to take in order to graduate then that’s very important,” said Notary.
And students agree it was money well spent, even after class is over.
“Everyone will feel safer that they won’t be scared to come to a football game and have to walk to their cars in the dark,” said Santistevan.
UNM police said there have been about a dozen crimes reported at the South Lot in the past year, mostly car break-ins. But, they say that is not unusually high compared to other lots on campus.