Parents spend a lot of time teaching their children to be safe, from training tykes to look before crossing the street, to helping teenagers learn to maneuver a car. And before they head off to college, where you hope that all those lessons will stick, theres time for one moreencouraging your child to take an active part in keeping safe on campus.
While the University of Iowa campus is a relatively safe place, crime does occur. For students who come from urban areas, keeping an eye on wallets and locking doors is likely to be second nature. But students from smaller towns may need to learn new habits.
The most frequently reported problem is theft, says Brad Allison, the crime prevention officer of the UIs Department of Public Safety Police Division.
Common sense can help prevent stolen backpacks, bikes, and other personal items.
Students need to be protective of their belongings, Allison says. They shouldnt leave their book bag unattended at the library, for example. He notes that a common place for belongings to disappear is at the University Bookstore or the Field House.
Students leave their bags in the nonlocking cubicles, he says. Instead, use a lock at the Field House or the coin-operated lockers at the bookstore.
Residence hall theft also can be prevented by making sure that students lock their rooms.
A lot of the problem stems from the naiveté of first-year students, says Maggie Van Oel, director of Residence Services. Students will let someone in the residence hall who shouldnt be there, or they will loan their room key to the friend of a friend.
According to Allison, the UI Police participates in Project ID, a program that deters crime and helps students regain stolen property. Students can record serial numbers of their valuables with the department and label their recorded items with Project ID stickers. More information can be found on the Department of Public Safety web site at or by calling Allison at 319-335-5043.
The second most-reported crimes are alcohol-related offenses, Allison says.
Its important that parents talk with their students about responsible, and legal, drinking, he says. This includes discussion of drinking to excess and the possible repercussions, including disturbing the rights of friends and roommates, fights, and the increased likelihood of being sexually assaulted.
Assaults, though rare, do occur on campus and in the Iowa City community. Allison again suggests common sensewalking in groups when possible, staying in well-lit areas, and staying away from isolated areas when walking alone. The campus is equipped with 16 blue-cap phones, which may be used in emergencies. The steel columns, originally purchased with funds from the University of Iowa Parents Association, are equipped with a police-type strobe light and feature a one-touch phone that summons campus officers. A recent gift from the Parents Association will place two additional phones on the west side of the Iowa River.
The UI Police offers a number of programs to help students stay safe. Resident assistants, the paraprofessionals who live on the residence hall floors, often schedule the programs, or they may be offered through ARH (Associated Residence Halls) or Greek system programming. These include Alcohol Awareness, a session on club or date-rape drugs, and Rape Aggression Defense (RAD), a 12-hour course that teaches risk reduction techniques and ways to escape from an attacker.
Allison hopes that students will take the courses and protect themselves.
Were not going to preach to students in these classes, Allison says. We provide information that allows students to make an educated choice and to help them understand the consequences of their actions.