Woods, Elwood Drive could be hazardous

The concealed privacy of the wooded area on one side of the grass lots and four lanes of traffic on the other side have added up to be a potentially double safety hazard for those who tailgate east of Jack Trice Stadium.

The wooded area is directly south of the grass area lots and the steady flow of traffic on Elwood Drive is west of the area.

Amy Schroeder, junior in marketing, said she feels many females feel unsafe tailgating during night football games.

“A lot of girls probably feel uneasy,” Schroeder said. “I know that no girls go back [into the woods] by themselves.”

Kara Muff, senior in family and consumer sciences education, said she felt more comfortable tailgating in the lots near the stadium than in the grass area lots.

“It was nice to be over there where there was a lot more light and you know the area better,” Muff said. “This is the first time I’ve been by those woods and you don’t know how far back they go.”

ISU Police Capt. Gene Deisinger said the woods have been a safety concern expressed several times in previous years.

“The concern we’ve had about the woods [posing a potential threat] is not new this year,” Deisinger said.

Deisinger said his department brought in more lighting to the grass lot area during last week’s home football game against Oklahoma, which took place at night. Along with the woods, he acknowledged the increase in traffic on Elwood Dr. to be a potential safety hazard.

“It appears that there’s more traffic between South 16th and Elwood [Drive] than there has been in the past,” Deisinger said. “We are concerned about the possibility of someone being struck by a vehicle.”

Deisinger said last week’s football game was “slightly elevated in custodial arrests.” However, the ISU police department has not received any reports of assault at any of the home football games thus far.

“Our major approach is to try and take an early intervention approach,” Deisinger said. “We issue early warnings and encourage people not to drink or to drink non-alcoholic beverages before people’s behavior gets out of hand.”

Deisinger said if people see things that may pose a potential problem or threat to report the activity to police officers.

Vice President for Student Affairs Thomas Hill said he doesn’t see the woods as “a big threat or a big problem if people are not intoxicated.”

“The woods might be the safer area,” Hill said.

Hill added it could be a danger if intoxicated people were to wander into the woods and possibly pass out.

Dean of Students Pete Englin said many of the issues that were of concern when tailgating took place on the hard surfaces remain issues in the grass area lots.

“We were concerned about [the woods and Elwood Drive] when tailgating was adjacent to the stadium,” Englin said.

Englin agreed with Hill — alcohol is a major contributing factor when it comes to the safety of tailgaters.

“I think the woods add an element of increased risk, but [people] need to understand alcohol use is the significant contributing factor in over 90 percent of the sexual assaults we experience at Iowa State,” Englin said. “Students should be able to walk into the woods and not worry about their safety, but we live in a society where that’s not true with binge drinking.”