Police aim for securer campus

Nimota Nasiru

As the start of the school year rears its head, ISU students and faculty quickly occupy themselves with various back-to-school activities and responsibilities.

However, the ISU Police Department and staff members find themselves with another agenda at hand, including keeping the secure, serene comfort of campus life at the forefront, and prevent happenings that could threaten it.

In light of the Virginia Tech shooting that shook college campuses around the nation in April, ISU administrators feel it is even more important to educate the ISU community on the subject of harassment in an effort to prevent the beginnings of radical frustrations that could ultimately lead to brutal violence.

ISU Police Cmdr. Gene Deisinger said reports of harassment on campus have risen significantly in the past couple of years. According to the crime statistics of harassment that resulted in arrests for the three past years, there were 51 in 2004, 69 in 2005, and 45 in 2006.

“The rise in the use of the Internet and e-mail has contributed significantly to that,” Deisinger said. “Many people communicate in a way through online or electronic means much differently than they would think acceptable in their personal lives.”

He said online communication can affect the “impression of intent.”

Both ISU policy and law play a role in cases of harassment, however, each one is utilized in different situations.

ISU law is enacted only when the immediate danger of the student is threatened, or attacks are presented against a student based on their race, religion or gender. However, the statement must be clear.

“Until there is a clear statement, he [the harasser] hasn’t violated anything,” Deisinger said.

Under misdemeanors of state law, crimes are placed on a scale of simple, serious and aggravated, although they can only be considered crimes if the intent is to intimidate, annoy or alarm the person. But this can also change if the harasser is asked to desist the action, yet continues to do it anyway.

Aggravated misdemeanor is defined as a threat of forcible felony against a party, such as a threat of killing. Serious crimes are defined as a threat of bodily injury against a party, while simple crimes pose no threat – they simply are used for a cause of annoyance.

Cases that do not fall in the above category are referred to the ISU policy on harassment.

In this policy, staff members of the ISU community are used as a means of communication to report incidents.

There are a number of different things someone who feels they are being harassed can do.

“Students have lots of avenues, lots different places they can go to, and lots of people they can talk to,” said Virginia Arthur, discrimination and harassment assistor and associate director of the department of residence.

If a student feels uncomfortable, Arthur said he or she should go to his or her community adviser or house staff person.

Arthur said if students are uncomfortable with that suggestion, they can also go to an assistor, the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center or the Dean of Students Office.

Minh Pham, freshman in pre-business, has mixed feelings about the policies.

“I feel safe that these policies are in place, but at the same time, I think they can be overdone at a certain level,” she said.