UISG teams with IC to promote campus safety


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Bright orange flames engulfed the walls of two rooms placed in Hubbard Park on Wednesday. As the fire spread, Iowa City firefighters were on the scene to extinguish the fires purposely created by the Iowa City Fire Department and University of Iowa officials.

Officials conducted the mock dorm fire Wednesday in connection with the UI Student Government's first Safety Awareness Fair — the first major event in association with its 2011-12 school year platform.

UISG President Elliot Higgins said safety became a priority after a woman said she was raped on the Pentacrest just over a year ago. The most recent sexual assault, reported in Daum in August, marks the fourth since the fall of 2010.

UISG Vice President Brittany Caplin said the fair is only one of UISG's safety initiatives this fall.

"The Safety Fair is a way to bring all the different organizations on campus into one area so any student that needs it can get any information about the different safety issues," she said.

Sixteen organizations from the UI and the Iowa City community participated in the fair, including officials from the Iowa City Fire Department, Iowa City police, Rape Victim Advocacy Program, and Student Legal Services, among others. Red Watch Band offered CPR and alcohol bystander training to those who attended.

"Those organizations on campus are extremely spread out," Caplin said. "So the goal is for any student that needs to, to get that information."

Though UISG student leaders said they have no plans to work with UI police on future safety campaigns, UI police Crime Prevention Specialist Alton Poole said the fair acted as a precautionary measure for students.

"The most common question we receive is, 'How safe is our campus?' " Poole said. "You're only as safe as you are mentally and physically. And here's an opportunity for us to give you those tools."

UISG's second safety initiative this fall is the wingman campaign — which encourages students to keep a friend with them when going out on weekends. UISG will work with Red Watch Band on the campaign.

The fair concluded with the mock dorm-room burn demonstration, and Iowa City Fire Marshal John Grier said he was pleased the fire and the fair coincided.

The UI has tried to perform a demonstration like this in the past several years, but Grier said it never worked out. This is the first big public demonstration the Fire Department has done, he said.

UI fire-safety coordinator Bruce McAvoy conducted the demonstration by lighting fire to both mock dorm rooms. Only one room was equipped with an automatic sprinkler system to demonstrate its effectiveness in stopping fires.

"[Equipping rooms with sprinklers] is the trend that university housing is going to across the United States, not only at the campus level but also at the sorority and fraternity level," McAvoy said. "They are a very effective tool for extinguishing fire and allowing people to escape from a burning structure."

UI junior Stephanie Taylor said she attended the fair because she wanted more information on what role police have on campus and in the community.

"I was interested in what it takes to become a police officer," she said. "The information was very accessible. I wasn't aware many of [the organizations] had websites before today."

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