Letters to the Editor/Online Comments

BY DI READERS | JUNE 14, 2013 5:00 AM

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RE: Artists getting benched

I’m responding to Mike Beall’s opinion piece about the Iowa City Downtown District’s and the UI Community Credit Union’s BenchMarks 2.0 program. Beall is absolutely correct that last year’s BenchMarks program was phenomenal, and we engaged hundreds of people across the region with direct artistry on every bench. Last year’s program did have “original charm” — but if we did it the same way, it we would lose the “original.” As the program ended last year, we gathered community art leaders for their feedback on the process and ideas for something new for the 2013 Benchmarks 2.0 program. This year’s community art workshops have been really interesting, and Creative Lead John Engelbrecht has been super accommodating of artists who want to get involved in the final curated work on the benches themselves; the process is just different. Because of the weather, the benches aren’t quite finished but are prepped for something I hope the community finds not only artful and fascinating, but if nothing else, original. Give us another review after BenchMarks 2.0 rolls out by the end of the month. Art commentary is always welcome.

Nancy Bird
executive director
Iowa City Downtown District

Prevent stalking

Someone follows you on your way home. Heavy breathing calls or inappropriate texts from a blocked number start to come through on your phone line. University of Iowa students experience this kind of harassment every year, and the UI may be partially to blame.

Department of Justice statistics on stalking show that  about 4.4 percent of people between the ages of 18-24 experienced stalking or harassment in 2011; 4.4 percent of the University of Iowa’s 30,893 student population equals 1,359 students. That year, 43 stalking or harassment incidents were serious enough to be reported to UI police, eight of which resulted in criminal charges.

In the information age, we know that once something is public, there is no making it private again. Companies search the Internet for publicly available contact information and sell it to anyone who is willing to pay for it. These entities can find your information when it is public and sell it to anyone at any time — even after you have made your UI directory information safely private. The only warning before this information is published to the world is via an email in the beginning of the year, which is easily lost among the many UI official emails that arrive at the same time.

Making student directory information private by default — the setting used for faculty and staff — would solve these issues. However, the administration seems unwilling to change current policy. Its stance seems to be that the concerns of the “few” students subjected to harassment are less important than advertising a student’s home-address information in case anyone wants to mail anything to them.

Please restrict your directory information by going to ISIS->Student Records->Restrict or Unrestrict Student Information and selecting “Address and Phone.”

Valerie Galluzzi
UI Ph.D. student

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