Carstens: Small changes can be made to ensure campus safety

Courtney Carstens

Sometimes the appeal of the university lifestyle can make it hard to see past the normal events of day-to-day life and to look at the possibilities that come along with living on a college campus for the first time. At first everything seems incredibly new and exciting, but we must keep the reality of how to maintain our safety in the back of our minds.

Have your keys with you at all times, but most importantly lock your doors. I know many students have the “this is Iowa” mentality that all the people are so friendly. This may be true, but some people will fool you. It’s not like we are the kids from “Children of the Corn” or anything, but Iowa did rank No. 16 out of 50 for violent crime rates in 2014. It was reported that for every 100,000 people, 263.9 violent crimes were committed in the state.

Statewide crimes should not be the only area of concern for students. Last Monday, Buchanan residence hall had an unwelcome visitor named Keneen Freeman come through multiple times harassing residents. Freeman was later escorted out of the building by police. Later that night, he returned only to flee the building as police arrived. Freeman has since been arrested and charged with two counts of criminal trespassing and harassment. While some may not lock their doors, remember that sweet little Iowa might not be so sweet after all.

Don’t walk home alone at night. You don’t know who or what may be out there. In the wake of a year filled with sexual assault allegations, both returning and new students must rid themselves of the “It won’t happen to me” mentality, especially when making the decision to venture out on your own at night. For my fellow female Cyclones, carrying pepper spray or a warning whistle is perfectly acceptable given the fact that 1 in 6 women have been the victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault. You can never be too careful or prepared when it comes to your safety.

It is for this reason that keeping your ISU ID card on you at all times is incredibly important. Dorms, for example, require students to use their IDs to gain access to the building. But the flaw lies in the fact that there are loopholes. In Helser Hall during the day, the door to gain access to the hall desk is unlocked, and anyone can enter. From there, stairs can be located to go up a level where dorm rooms are.

Frankly this is unsafe. Anyone with this knowledge, of this dorm or any of the others, can enter any dorm halls whenever they please even though they may not have a credible reason to be there.

The counter argument for this case is the fact that some individuals who don’t live in a particular residence hall need to go see the hall desk but won’t be able to gain access via student ID.

There is a solution out there if the university would like to hear it — installing a sort of buzzer that a visitor could push, notifying the person on front-desk duty. The visitor could then inform the hall desk of the nature of their business to ensure everything is on the up and up and let them in via that same buzzer device.

There are simply changes like this that can ensure the safety not only on campus, but where students are living.