Staying safe on campus

Kaitlin York

From the late nights spent studying at Parks Library to the later nights spent going out on the weekends, measures have been taken to provide campus safety tips and services available for whenever they are needed.

There are two main departments that provide safety for Iowa State. First is Iowa State’s Department of Public Safety. Its mission is to ensure the campus remains a safe place to live, learn and work. The professional staff works with other community members to improve the quality of life by enhancing safety, personal security and access services, according to its website. 

The DPS is broken up into two divisions: police and parking.

The police division is the university’s official law enforcement agency that respond to calls for service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Approximately 30 state-certified officers are assisted by state official dispatchers and civilian staff. These officers possess the right to detain, investigate and arrest. They are also trained to provide safety escorts, unlock vehicles, conduct building security patrols and assist special events. 

One of the services frequently used is the HelpVan, which is available to all ISU students, faculty, staff and visitors. For no charge and by dialing 515-294-4444, the DPS will dispatch the HelpVan for the following services:

  • Jump-start
  • Jacks, lug wrenches, or other tools needed to change a flat tire
  • A ride to and from the nearest service station for assistance in getting fuel
  • A shovel to allow you to scoop snow

The operations hours vary:

  • Monday to Thursday 7:30 to 3 a.m.
  • Friday 7:30 a.m. to midnight
  • Sunday 5 p.m. to midnight
  • Summer hours may vary

Another frequently used service is the Safety Escort, accessible by the same number. The service operates from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. while classes are in session. The Safety Escort assists students, faculty or staff who find it uncomfortable walking to their residence or car. After making the phone call for assistance, a uniformed officer will meet you and will walk with you or drive you.

There are also campus services provided through the university if you become a victim of sexual assault or any other crime. The Sexual Assault Response Team consists of trained professionals who provide a response to sexual assaults. They work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help victims overcome barriers-free of charge. SART can be reached at 1-800-203-3488. There are several benefits that have come from this service, according to their website:

  • Provide a standardized response in assisting victims
  • More comprehensive care, better access to support services for victims
  • Clearer communication among team members
  • Increase effectiveness of collection and preservation of evidence
  • Reduce repeated questioning of victim
  • Higher rate of successful prosecutions
  • Higher rate of victim reporting

The Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support, or ACCESS, is another service for people seeking help regarding domestic violence or sexual assault in Story County. The agency began in 1974 with the help of the ISU Government of Student Body. Upon calling the hotline number at 515-292-5378, a safe environment is provided for those in need of it. While offering this free and confidential service, its goals are to:

  • Provide a safe environment for all people who have experienced domestic violence and sexual violence, regardless of race, national origin, gender, sexual identity, religion, immigration status, age or ability
  • Advocate for individuals who have experienced domestic and sexual violence 
  • Promote social change in the judicial, political and medical systems
  • Partner with other agencies to promote policies, procedures and programs to create a safe community
  • Provide education and professional training to understand and end domestic and sexual violence
  • Continue to seek resources to implement programs to achieve this vision
An important service to sign up for on AccessPlus is ISU Alert. The new system quickly alerts students, faculty and staff of situations of which they need to be aware. Severe weather, hazardous material incidents, bomb threats or other dangers will be brought to your attention through either a telephone call, text message or email. In emergencies, by calling 515-294-5000 a recorded message can be listened to as well.

Ames Police Department, 515 Clark Ave., is the other department that provides safety for all Ames residents. Iowa State plays a central role in the community due to students making up almost half of the Ames population. The total population of Ames including students is 58,935, according to the U.S. Census.

The police department has formed a Safe Neighborhood’s Team that strives to build positive relationships with the community through problem solving and quality of life issues in high volume areas. If you have a problem that you think should be addressed by the team, contact Sgt. Howard Snider at 515-231-4661.

Ames Police also issues keg and noise permits. To obtain a keg permit, you will have to go through a short briefing with the department’s alcohol enforcement team. This is to provide information relating to legal responsibilities. There is no charge for a permit, but the permit must be obtained.

To obtain a noise permit, an application must be completed that states the location, source of expected noise and the people responsible for the party. If you are granted the noise permit, you will be told how loud the noise can be. Applications must be submitted at least 24 hours prior to the event and there is no fee.

ISU Police and Ames Police strive to keep the campus as safe as possible. The services provided are to be used without hesitation. Someone will always be available to assist in keeping you safe.