Student Senate addresses campus safety concerns

Olivia Jacobs

Illustration: Isabel Sperry

The Student Senate executive board members discussed several issues regarding campus safety, winter weather and skateboarding during its general assembly meeting on Sunday, March 28 via Zoom. 

Student Senate President Daniel Maisch raised the question of how to improve overall campus safety from a student perspective. Maisch said that a few weeks ago a student expressed concern over snow shovels during the winter months. Maisch announced that shovels will now be available to check out from campus safety with a student ID and there will be further marketing announcements next winter.

Maisch addressed the issue of skateboarding which was brought up by a constituent who was concerned about ticketing. Dean Karla Carney-Hall provided clarification for students on the issue.

“When we transitioned from in-house campus safety to Per Mar there were some assumptions made about our campus policy around skateboards. There is some clear signage by Ames that skateboarding is not permitted, but campus safety assumed that meant everywhere,” Carney-Hall said. 

Carney-Hall also said that the student handbook is not clear on this issue. IWU allows skateboarding as a means of transportation outside. As long as the skateboard is being used to get from place to place or as general exercise it is okay. IWU does not, however, allow stunting or tricking because of the damage it can cause to railings, stairs and benches as well as the risk for injury. 

“We’ve had a chance within campus safety to clarify those expectations and we will work to make sure that the student handbook is much clearer so that students know what the boundaries are,” Carney-Hall said. 

Sophomore Maria Harmon announced that at a prior meeting students expressed concern about the emergency tower stations only being checked once a month, which are now being checked every two weeks by the Campus Safety Advisory Committee.

One student also suggested that the number for titan transport should be given out during orientation to improve campus safety. Another student suggested that when campus safety sends out an alert to the community, it should show up on the IWU app in addition to an email. The Student Senate Civic Engagement Commissioner Sofia Papoutsis also recommended that campus safety alerts be emailed in a more timely fashion. 

“I understand that campus safety wants to have accuracy over speed, but there seems to be a lag between the occurrence of an incident and when the email is sent out. I think the last one was over a 12-hour lag where the incident happened around 9 p.m. and an email wasn’t sent out until the next day,” Papoutsis said.

Dean Karla also addressed student concern over campus safety making enough rounds on a regular basis. She said when IWU switched to Pre Mar security the one thing that changed was the button touring system where several, small tags around campus that the officers run their phones on during their tours, which IWU can track. 

“We know exactly where they’ve been on campus and what that tour has looked like so we have been able to verify that they are out doing rounds in different locations,” Carney-Hall said.

Both Dean Karla and Advocacy and Awareness Commissioner Julia Hilt encouraged students to voice their opinions if they feel there are places on campus they would expect campus safety officers to be and are not. Carney-Hall said there can always be spots added to their tours and adjustments can be made.

“I worry that there is a perception that this isn’t allowed to change over time because things have changed quite a bit in the last year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to find ways to make sure that campus safety is visible both for you all and your comfort level but also as a crime deterrent which I think is important,” Carney-Hall said. 

Hilt also discussed the issue of lighting on campus. Campus Safety used to perform an annual roundabout but has since made the change to perform one each semester to determine what areas need more lighting.

“I live in the gates student apartments and I know other students in this meeting do as well. That walk back sometimes is very dark so that’s one of my biggest concerns,” Hilt said.

Students Katie-Beth Jackson and Maria Harmon ended the discussion by talking about safety concerns regarding the sorority houses. Harmon said that Campus Safety made it clear that the sorority houses can call campus safety and they will show up, however, the houses are really under the jurisdiction of the Bloomington Police Department (BPD).

“I’m in a sorority and to hear that all of the houses where the women are is not really campus safety’s job to help is definitely a concern,” Harmon said.

Maish ended the meeting by encouraging students to email him, Dean Karla or anyone on the executive board with any more ideas or concerns.

Student Senate holds general assembly meetings every other week and can be accessed through this Zoom link. The final meetings of the semester will take place on April 11 and April 18. Anyone is welcome to attend.