Parents’ primary concern is the safety of their students. Iowa has a reputation as a safe place. Ironically, that may be why students and their belongings sometimes are not as safe as they think. So residence hall officials give students one simple bit of advice: The way to stay safe and keep your belongings secure is to be smart, lock your student room door, and be aware of what’s going on around you.
Students are partners with the University in protecting their own safety, and they have a lot of help available. One of the resources is the Black & Gold Book for New Students, distributed at Orientation, which lists offices or areas of the University dedicated to safety. There also is information on University web sites, including a Crime Prevention Newsletter on the UI Police web site (www.uiowa.edu/~pubsfty).
The University is patrolled by sworn, certified police officers in Public Safety. They are graduates of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, with the same powers as police departments in the community. One unit also has specialized training in helping victims of sexual assault.
In case of an emergency, 22 Blue Cap telephones around campus give students immediate access to UI police officers. Cambus runs frequently, for both convenience and safety.
Even with these resources, students need to take precautions. Brad Allison, crime prevention specialist for the UI Police, points out that theft—especially of books, backpacks, bicycles, sound systems, and laptop computers—is the No. 1 reported crime on campus.
“Important belongings can be registered on Project ID [www.uiowa.edu/~pubsfty/projectid.htm],” Allison says. “ We give students stickers to put on registered items so we can trace serial numbers and ownership to residence hall addresses.”
Allison also suggests that students take the 12-hour free course called Rape Aggression Defense Training, available from the UI Police.
“It covers risk-reduction techniques and basic self-defense,” he says.
Thomas Baker, associate dean of students in the Office of the Vice President for Student Services, says parents can help students by being proactive before the move to campus.
“I’d suggest active parental advice,” he says. “Residence Services distributes lists of items that students may not bring. Parents need to make sure that none of those things is packed.”
In general, Baker adds, if there’s any doubt, it’s wise to leave items at home.
“Do you really want a bike, or would you rather take Cambus?” he says. “Especially in winter, most students prefer to ride the bus. If you’re not sure whether you’ll use an item, don’t bring it. Four weeks into the semester, you can go home and bring it back, if you decide it’s necessary.”
Baker tells parents to be aware that their sons and daughters will be undergoing immense change, starting with Orientation and continuing through the college experience.
“Students who come to campus with safety on their minds may become distracted as they become more comfortable with their surroundings. Maintain communication, and keep reminding them about safety.”
By Anne Tanner