After nearly three years, the student initiative to add lighting to Old Main Hill and the surrounding streets has been seen to completion. The lighting was added to provide extra safety for people walking around campus after sunset, as well as lighting that is more energy efficient and dark sky compliant. Between 10-15 lamps were added to campus, as well as replacing several bulbs with high-efficiency LED lights.
Former Utah State University Student Association Executive Vice President Dexton Lake was instrumental in making sure the project was completed, pioneering the funding for the safety lighting during his time in the USUSA. While the initial progress on the project, which began in 2019, was slow, Lake remained engaged in the Student Involvement and Leadership Office and was able to see the project through to completion in spring 2021. The project was funded under the USU Student Facility Enhancement Fund.
“At the time, I was serving as the Academic Senator for the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences,” Lake said. “I had a lot of people complain to me about their safety insecurities. Some said the quad and others identified certain walkways and paths around campus. With these concerned students and the need to address an ecological concern on campus, I put together a proposal to fund additional lighting on campus through the Facility Enhancement Fund.”
The Facility Enhancement Fund was born from the vision of student body officers and President Noelle E. Cockett in the spring of 2018. President Cockett promised $200,000 from tuition funding to go to special projects that students could submit. The projects were then reviewed by the student body officers, who then sent projects to President Cockett for final approval. Lake proposed the lighting project and was awarded $63,000 for the project when he was then CAAS Senator. Lake continued pushing the project when he was elected as the USUSA Executive Vice President, ensuring its actualization.
“It is exciting for students to have a voice in initiatives on campus and be able to have a say in what type of projects are funded,” said USU Student Involvement and Leadership Associate Director Spencer Bitner. “It’s exciting for the students that brought the issue of poor lighting and non-dark sky compliant fixtures to the attention of student body officers. For the general student body this means they can have a lasting impact and improve the university and campus life. It takes time and effort but students that are passionate about change are able to effect change on campus.”
The purpose of the USU Student Facility Enhancement Fund is to provide students with direct input into decision regarding the disposition of funds for enhancing facilities and for reviewing the facilities needs overall at this institution. The Facility Enhancement Committee funding provides financial assistance to renovate, upgrade or expand safety for recreational, cultural, educational, or other related public-use community facilities at USU.
“Who said a student can’t initiate change?” Lake asked. “I don’t know where the mentality came from, but students are the ones who make great things happen. I’ll inevitably leave Utah State University and people will forget who I am, but I hope those lights serve as reminder that change doesn’t have to start with faculty, staff, or administration. It can start and can be finished by a student who knows that something different needs to happen for the betterment of the school.”
For more information or to submit a project for consideration, visit www.usu.edu/involvement/funding/facilities-enhancement.