Staff Writer

Many courses that students take during their college years often seem useless, or the knowledge obtained doesn't seem fitting to "real-world situations." However, students from one course this term were given an assignment to challenge that common myth and looked at ways to improve the world around them.
Students from Bill Lockett's Business Communications 240 course spent weeks researching and analyzing ways to improve lighting, escort services and transportation methods on campus and in Fort Sanders as part of a final class project.
The students met with various officials from UT, the city of Knoxville, and others to assess the feasibility of their ideas in regard to cost, safety, and other concerns.
Their ideas were presented before a panel consisting of Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, Capt. Randy Lockmiller from the Knoxville Police Department, Lt. Keith Lambert from UTPD, and Betsey Creekmore, associate vice president of space and facilities on Nov. 24.
The first of three groups proposed placing a motion lighting system in place in poorly lit areas on campus as well as a reliable night-time escort service that will serve both areas.
"We're proposing lights that are going to trigger from about 80-feet away in a sequential relay pattern that will light up a potential 50 to 60 yards on an area on campus," Shaun Conygham, an undecided sophomore, said.
The group estimated about 250 motion lights at around the total cost of $10,000. Conygham said that the lights would work as a criminal deterrent by startling assailants.
The group also analyzed the lack of a student escort system on campus.
Currently the university has no system in place besides the T-Transit system, which is contracted by Knoxville Area Transit. The group said this is a great service for students during the day time, but fails to live up to the services provided by the old Blinkie point-to-point van escort system.
Tatum Ruck, a sophomore in recreation and psychology, identified problems associated with the T, especially with a late night escort service KAT boasts on the T's Web site http://ridethet.com.
"We have, myself and other students in this group, and other students we have talked to have called the number asking for an escort from the places we worked, to a designated T-Link bus stop or for a van to come pick us up, which the Web site says that it will do. Every person that we have talked to has tried this is told 'no we will not come pick you up, walk to the bus stop and wait 15 minutes,'" Ruck said.
To solve the problem, the group assessed implementing a point-to-point escort service run through the usage of golf carts. They concluded a system with 14 carts, 36 student employees equipped with walkie-talkies would cost the university around $171,000 to implement and would cost around $82,000 per semester.
M.G. Bailey, a senior in speech communications, said that an increase in transportation fees could assist in offsetting the cost.
"We suggest raising the transportation fee $5 per semester, currently it is $16. That is the lowest fee that students pay," Bailey said. "If you do the math, you'll come out with $190 thousand ballpark, and our theoretical program only costs $171 thousand."
Bailey said that the $171 thousand estimate is for the first year alone, the price would decrease because there would no longer be the need to purchase new carts each year.
A second group looked at safety education for students and improvements for the T-Transit system.
Sean Riley, a junior in forestry said that new T-Transit routes on campus and in Fort Sanders area would greatly benefit students.
"There would be two separate routes, which would pretty much be divided by Cumberland (Avenue)," Riley said.
The first route would start at the UC and run to Fraternity Row via Volunteer Avenue, then turn onto Andy Holt Avenue, go down the Strip and back to the UC. The new route would be intended to reduce the number of DUIs on and around campus.
Riley said that the other route would begin at the UC, go around the backside of the Hill, up Clinch Avenue onto 20th Street and Highland Avenue, then to 13th Street and back to the UC.
The group also suggested that students be allowed to take Rape Aggression Defense courses for credit hours. The courses, which are offered by UTPD, teach people how to defend themselves through various self-defense techniques, and through the usage of aerosol sprays, and key chains.
The final group looked at adding motion cameras in all parking garages, similar to those that have been placed in the new 11th Street garage, as well as increased security patrol to reduce the amount of car burglaries.
Keith Boring, a junior in finance, suggested UT implement an Office of Security Preparedness similar to that at The University of Georgia to address major emergency situations.
"The Office of Security Preparedness at UGA is an administrative office that bridges the gap between the campus Police Department, and the environmental health and Safety Department," Boring said.
Boring said a similar office at UT could provide up-to-date information for planning and managing security needs, as well as identify threats on campus.
Panel members said they were very impressed by the amount of work students put into the presentations and we're glad that students took into account personal responsibility in regard to safety.
Lockmiller said he was really pleased that students took safety so seriously and actually went out and looked at concerns first hand.
"There were some solid presentations made today and they did their homework," Lockmiller said. "I heard a bunch of statistical numbers put out as far as crimes that have happened on campus and I think they did a really good job."
Lambert said that he was really glad to see the student awareness about safety and stressed that the more student involvement because of their first hand knowledge of what is going on around campus.
"I think they had good ideas and good suggestions," Lambert said. "I think some of them they are going to find out they are going to be limited financially with some of the ideas that they had, but overall the awareness and the risk reduction, those are free."
Lockett said that students have no responsibility other than their sense of civic duty to carry their ideas on any further. He said that he hopes that by having public officials at the event, along with the news media, that some of ideas may be considered or acted upon.
"I'm glad they took the time to plan it out and consider their options. A lot of the ideas that they had, I thought were some of the best in terms of practicality," Lockett said. "The ideas they came up with were certainly doable even in today's climate even with tight dollars."