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First campus assault of year prompts discussion

BY LAUREN COFFEY | AUGUST 27, 2013 5:00 AM

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Following the first report of an near-campus assault this school year, University of Iowa officials say they hope students will now take more advantage of the safety precautions offered by the school.

The UI police said officials continue to advocate for students to take advantage of the safety measurements to offset the growing number of assaults on campus.

According to a Monday press release, a still yet-to-be-identified woman was assaulted around 2:45 a.m. Sunday in the area of Byington Road and Melrose Avenue while walking home.

The area is bounded by the Boyd Law Building, home of the UI College of Law, and near Hillcrest Residence Hall, just under a mile from the heart of downtown Iowa City.

The attacker allegedly blocked the woman’s way on the sidewalk before knocking her to the ground. He then proceeded to get on top of the woman. The woman was unable to provide a description of her attacker other than he was male.

She was able to escape with minor injuries, and she did not need to receive medical attention as of Sunday morning, the release said.

This information was released in accordance with the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses, including timely warnings of crimes that may represent a threat to the safety of students or employees.

Chuck Green, the assistant vice president for the UI police, said it is important for students to take advantage of the various safety measurements offered at the university, including NiteRide, while also being aware of other students as well.

“Take note of safety precautions when you’re out and about,” Green said. “But there’s no reason to be out in the wee hours of the night. You need to take extra caution. Some of the students, this is the first time being away from home, and you just hope they make the right choice.”

The last near-campus assault happened in April.

Some UI students said that while the area of the assault is not a safe place to be in while alone, or at night, overall, the campus environment, not the city as a whole, is well-protected.

“In the day, [walking] would be OK, but not at night,” UI sophomore Jennifer Martin said. “I don’t feel safe walking anywhere alone [on campus] at night, especially when there are no street lights.”

UI senior Rachael Ivy echoed Martin’s thoughts, noting that the lighting in Iowa City as well as on campus could be improved to better safety.

“There’s not enough lighting, and it’s a low-traffic area; it’s a good place for a predator to be,” said Ivy, a former sexual-assault advocate.

Ivy said she believed the blue emergency alert stations scattered around campus work well.

“The only thing this city can do is make not well-lit areas better,” she said.

UI Student Government President Katherine Valde said the group is currently focusing on promoting SafeRide, a 1-year-old transportation service that allocates one ride per semester to every UI student, both male and female.

In a June 20 interview, Valde told The Daily Iowan that the group has been in discussions with area law-enforcement agencies and has driven through a number of surrounding off-campus neighborhoods to identify which ones should be prioritized for increased lighting implementations.

“We have Cambus, NiteRide, and SafeRide, which is a really good complement to the services,” Valde said. “We didn’t see too many of students use the service, so we’re trying to promote it more this year.”

Nonetheless, Ivy said she believed with increased safety measures, the city could witness a decline in assaults.

“Things like this will always happen; they’re never going to end, so we need good safety measures in place,” she said.


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