Stalking continues to occur at Iowa State, across nation

Katie Titus

The end of January brings the end of National Stalking Awareness month, but the end of the month does not mean that stalking stops around the nation and on Iowa State’s campus. 

The ISU Police Department has 16 reported cases of stalking in 2013. Out of those reports, 15 came from campus, three came from residence halls and one was within Ames city limits. 

Stalking is defined as “engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others,” according to the definition of stalking given by the Clery Act, which tracks all campus crime.

Under the Clery Act, universities including Iowa State are required by law to disclose information about a crime on and around campus. 

“Sixty-one percent of females and 44 percent of males are stalked by a boyfriend, girlfriend or ex, and they are usually aware of it happening,” said Natasha Oren, the Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support campus prevention and outreach advocacy coordinator.

Throughout the nation, there have been 6.6 million people who have reported being stalked in one year in the United States, according to the Stalking Resource Center.

Julie Anderson, senior in apparel, merchandising and design, said she has personally experienced stalking.

“I’ve never felt like I was being stalked at Iowa State,” Anderson said. “When I was working at Wal-Mart in Cedar Rapids, I was. I didn’t know him, but he asked all of my co-workers questions about me.” 

Anderson reported her experiences to the Walmart security, so they knew that she felt like she was in danger. She never heard from the man again. 

“I think [stalking] is an issue everywhere but is something very underreported,” said Anthony Greiter, an ISU Police community outreach officer. “[Stalking] is not always something that is recognized by the police department.”

If a student feels that they are being stalked, there is a series of routes they can take. 

“We encourage people to call the police, so we can take action,” Greiter said. “That doesn’t always mean there is going to be an arrest.” 

Much like sexual assaults, not all cases of stalking go reported. If a student feels they are being stalked or knows someone who is being stalked, they can contact either the ISU Police Department or ACCESS to help them figure what route they want to take. 

Stalking can sometimes be misinterpreted.

“From the outside looking in it can seem like nice gestures,” Oren said. “When actually, the gestures can be causing someone to feel intimidated or feel fear.”

Someone may receive gifts, such as flowers, from their stalker. To a person looking in on the situation, it may seem nice, but there is an underlying tone that can make the recipient of the flowers feel uneasy, Oren said.

“The best form of prevention is support for the person being stalked,” Oren said. 

Students may choose to contact the Ames or ISU Police, ACCESS, the Dean of Students Office, residence hall directors or community advisors. Anyone with whom the student feels most comfortable with is who they should report to, Greiter said. 

“We want to make sure that everyone has a safe environment,” Greiter said. “Students come here [Iowa State] expecting to be safe.”