How to walk home safely at night

Audra Kincart

It’s an early Saturday morning at 1 a.m. as a student packs her bag in Parks Library. With three tests the next week, she is looking forward to getting some sleep after a day of studying.

She puts her headphones in, takes a deep breath and hesitates before entering the dark as she starts the long walk home, alone.

But she need not be alone.

Students who don’t feel safe walking home at night have a variety of services available to them.

“The best service I believe that we provide is our safety escort service that runs 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day of the week,” said Lt. Elliot Florer of the Iowa State Police Department.

The safety escort picks students up at any place on campus and takes them to any other campus location, including sororities, fraternities, residence halls and other university housing, Florer said.

Florer had other suggestions for students to ensure they get home safely at night.

“Walking at night with a group of people is always good, and pay attention to surroundings,” Florer said.

He also advised students against wearing headphones, and to keep the ISU Police number in your phone and report any suspicious activity immediately.

A help van is also available with services that include jump-starting a car, getting a ride to the nearest service station for gas, changing a flat tire and bringing a shovel to scoop snow.

Each year, Student Government sponsors a safety walk to identify areas with poor lighting and other dangers for students walking home at night.

“We’d be happy to have more students go on the walk, and if students have something of concern that we don’t find, of course we would love to hear about that,” said Sam Schulte, senior in biochemistry who represents students on the Ames City Council.

The safety walk occurs every fall and takes place at night with Ames police, City Council members, Student Government and other students in attendance. It goes all over campus and includes Campustown, about two blocks on each side of Welch Avenue.

One issue Schulte wants to address this year on the walk include no parking in Campustown from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. He wants to change this to all-night parking on the weekends. This change would decrease the chance of people driving while drunk to move their cars, Schulte said.

Schulte also would like the city to add cameras in Campustown, and he sees the safety walk as a great starting point for that conversation.

Overall, the main goal of the safety walk is “to identify areas where there is a dearth of safety concerns and ways to improve them,” Schulte said.

The 2015-2016 safety walk is still being planned.