ISU Police, GSB work together to make campus safer for students

Jordan Reding

Though the majority of ISU students are on campus during the daylight, many students and faculty members return or come to campus during times when the sidewalks and parking lots are not well-lit. 

Students and faculty may be uneasy about walking through some parts of campus that are poorly lit, but the ISU Police Department and the Government of the Student Body plan to illuminate the issue.

ISU Police and GSB want all students to feel comfortable while on campus, and the campus safety walk helps achieve those goals.

That is why these organizations hold a campus safety walk each year. During the annual walk around campus, the students and faculty make sure campus lighting and overall landscape is safe for students. The safety walk is done to make Iowa State’s campus as student friendly and safe as possible.

“The campus safety walk is something we take very seriously,” said Lt. Elliott Florer of the ISU Police Department.

During the campus safety walk students and faculty document any problems they see, such as poor lighting, large cracks in the sidewalk and faulty locks. They also look for depressions in the sidewalk where ice might form. These issues can be a danger to students on campus.

The problems students and faculty find are then reported to Facilities Planning and Management. Those repairs are usually made within 24 hours.

“We look for anything that might be a danger to students,” said GSB senator Neil Vezeau. “Our main concern is to look out for our fellow students. This year, the safety walk was done at night, but we plan to do one during the day too.”

As for safety on campus, ISU Police regularly patrols campus at night. Police patrol all areas of campus the same amount, Florer said. Police cars are the standard way of patrol, but they also patrol by bicycle and on foot.

Florer said ISU Police does not receive any more reports in the darker areas of campus than the well lit areas, and believes Iowa State’s campus is well lit.

“Yes there are areas that we could improve, but we believe our campus is very well lit,” Florer said.

Although ISU Police is confident in campus lighting, that doesn’t change what some students think. Students have differing opinions about the safety of campus at night.

Mickey Sundermann, sophomore in public relations and religious studies, said she feels unsafe in poorly lit areas of campus for a very specific reason.

“I don’t like walking anywhere at night on campus, whether it’s lit or not because of all the sexual assault cases,” Sundermann said.

Sundermann said the history of crime at Iowa State and other campuses makes her uneasy. 

Although some students don’t see a problem with their safety on campus, they do feel unsafe in other areas of Campustown.

“I usually feel safe on campus, but sometimes I get nervous when I’m off campus around the bars at night, especially if I’m by myself,” said Lucas Heaverlo, freshman in journalism and mass communication.

Whether a student is alone or accompanied by another student also seems to play a role in whether they feel safe on campus or not.

“When I am with one or more people I usually feel safe, but it all seems pretty dark on campus at night, so when I’m alone I get a little more creeped out and am more cautious of my surroundings,” said Nicole Mergen, sophomore in public relations.

Although the safety walks reduce a lot of problems on campus, including bad lighting, not all problems can be avoided, Florer said.

Students have a number of different options if they do find themselves in an unsafe situation on campus.

There are 16 different help phones located across campus that can be used if a problem occurs. These phones are checked weekly to ensure that they work properly when students need them. If students aren’t sure where they are on campus, ISU Police can locate the help phone they are using to find their exact location.

A safety escort is another option for students if they feel unsafe on campus at night. The escort service runs from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. An escort will take students from any location on campus to another location on campus and can help students who want to avoid walking on campus at night.

Florer suggested some tips for students to stay safe on campus.

Always use common sense. If students feel uncomfortable, listen to instincts, Florer said. Walking with at least one other person at night can also help students stay safe, as well as paying attention to where you are on campus and avoiding isolated areas.

Students can also carry a cellphone with them that has the ISU Police non-emergency number saved as a contact in their phone for quick access. Florer also suggested that students who walk around campus while listening to music should wear only one headphone so they can hear what’s going on around them. 

If students or faculty see any problems around campus, they are encouraged to contact Facilities Planning and Management at 515-294-5100 or ISU Police at 515-294-4428.

“We encourage our students, faculty and staff that if they see something that needs to be addressed to please call us. That’s what we’re here for,” Florer said.