Stalker Panel asks students to speak up

Jared Raney

January is the official National Stalker awareness month. Around 3.4 million people over the age of 18 are stalked each year in the US.

Jan. 24 a panel was conducted to discuss stalking and ways the University and ISU Police overcome it. The most important thing that was stressed throughout the meeting was for students to alert someone of possible stalking behavior as soon as they can. 

“I’m committed to helping, but I’m not psychic,” said Keith Robinder, director of student assistance and outreach.

Being stalked can be a traumatic and stressful experience, but for ISU students there are many options to confront and move past such a terrible event. 

“We are there to listen first,” said Carrie Jacobs, police lieutenant of the ISU Police. “Then to give you your options and resources.”

The ISU Police are more than happy to assist, but they are not the only resource for students.

“We [Student Assistance Services] are designated as a point of contact for students who have questions or concerns related to Iowa State University’s sexual misconduct policy,” Robinder said. “The policy regarding sexual misconduct is broadly defined; it includes a range of behavior that includes stalking.”

Joining Robinder and Jacobs on the panel was police lieutenant Aaron Delashmutt, director of judicial affairs and the domestic violence services coordinator for ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support) Michelle Boettcher.

“Any unwelcome sexual behavior is likely to be a violation of our policy,” Robinder said. “One of the things that I find when students come to Student Assistance and ask for help or guidance on this issue is often times they really aren’t aware of our policy and they may not even know that they are being stalked.”

In addition to discussing what constitutes stalking, the five panel members talked about what can be done to avoid stalkers.

“The biggest thing that people don’t realize is the amount of information that is out there about yourself on the internet… It’s really hard to keep yourself off the internet… Just being aware and limiting what you put out there, once you put something out there it’s hard to get back,” Boettcher said.

The only way Student Assistance Services or ISU police can help is if they know the problem.

The panel said that approximately 300 cases of stalking are officially reported for ISU student. Jacobs said that for every case a report is filed for, there are ten for which no report is filed.

Students can’t expect to completely avoid these unfortunate situations, but through awareness and early acknowledgement of the problem they can mitigate the problem.

“If you know someone or see something out of the ordinary, say something,” Jacobs said.