A friend and I threw a frisbee across Manning Street between College Baptist and the front lawn of Delta Tau Delta this past weekend. And even though the sun had set and clouds obscured the light of the moon, we could see the disc fine because new streetlights force residents of Manning Street to live in a state of perpetual day.
The new streetlights are a part of the College Park project.
The project, headed by the Board of Trustees, aims to develop housing on Manning Street and townhouses on West Street to create beautiful, natural-looking neighborhoods that coordinate nicely with campus, Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé said in a December 2016 interview with The Collegian.
These streetlights have not accomplished the goals put forward by the college.
They are not beautiful and they do not contribute to anything that is “natural-looking.”
Normally, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The moon undergoes various cycles that offer differing amounts and qualities of light. But none of that reflected light is as noxious as the retina-singeing glare that radiates from the streetlights.
And it is not as if these streetlights are simply an inconsequential, if poor, aesthetic choice. They will actually harm Manning residents’ health.
According to Health.com, light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that promotes restful sleep.
“You want as much darkness in your bedroom as you can handle without tripping over things,” said Joyce Walsleben, associate professor at the New York University School of Medicine.
And nowadays, inexpensive artificial light can assuage anyone at any hour of the day. And artificial is the best word to describe the Manning Street lights. Though during the day the poles evoke the old gaslight style, the new lights on Manning Street emit a piercing white LED light.
Light is measured in two ways: lumen and lux. Lumen measures the intensity of light at the source and lux measures the effect of lumen over the surface area it illuminates.
If you have been subjected to the garish brightness of LED bulbs, you serve as a witness to high luminosity. If you live on Manning Street and have been able read the titles on your bookshelf after you have switched off the lights, you serve as a witness to the terrible lux caused by the new lights.
According to Resmed, a company that designs products to alleviate the effects of sleep disorders, lux can range from 150,000 on a sunny summer day to 1,000 on a cloudy winter day, but at night, even when the moon is out, the lux value is often less than one.
In a bedroom at night the lux value should be no higher than 5. But because of the streetlights, Manning residents have to contend with light that equates to a perpetual sunrise.
The lights further scramble students’ already inverted circadian rhythms and make the walk down the hill from campus stressful instead of relaxing. Now, pedestrians must look down at their feet to avoid retinal damage.
Maybe the college should give out Eclipse Glasses for the walk home.
Though the Board of Trustees wanted to “make the campus stretch down the street,” they have broken the borders between the main campus, where no one lives and events happen at all hours, and the surrounding residential area, where people live and sleep.
Before the installation, Manning Street shadows calmed the nerves of restless students ready to relax after a day of ardent study.
Now, the harshness of a nighttime stroll down Manning provokes lamentations for a simpler time when people could watch their neighbour flick on lamps at dusk, a time when nights were quiet, serene, and, most importantly, dark.
The Lake Hudson Dark Sky Preserve is really the only place near Hillsdale to escape the proliferation of light pollution. And even then, after enjoying the brilliant stargazing possible in near blackness, a halo of light from the surrounding cities still illuminates the park enough so that you can always find your car.
For me, there is little recourse. The lights are there and intrude upon my home. Maybe when the LEDs burn out, mellow fluorescents could replace them and positively contribute to the aesthetic quality of Manning Street.
The college, however, should think hard before it installs similar lights on West Street.
Though I will admit it is nice to play frisbee whenever I want, as the sun goes down, I would rather enjoy the steady fade from the golden hour to the blue hour and down into dusk without the streetlights buzzing awake and rebuking the darkness.
Mark Naida is a senior studying French.