Opinion: Campus response times to emergencies are less than favorable

By Farah Bassyouni Apr 1, 2022
Credit: Liam Killian
Credit: Liam Killian

On March 27, Campus Safety sent an email to the student body about an event near campus of an individual with a firearm. Though the event happened near the 900 block of North Main Street, not within the parameters of IWU campus, there is a noticeable population of students that live in the area where the event occurred. The event took place at 5:47 p.m. on Sunday night, and students were not informed of the safety concern until 7:16 p.m., which was over an hour later. By that time, the police had secured the area, and no further information was given. 

Meanwhile on campus, students were oblivious to the dangerous scene that occurred a mere few blocks away. For individuals in student senate, many found themselves worried about walking to the 6:00 p.m. meeting, leading to the Executive Board to make the decision to push the meeting back by 15 minutes. 

This is not the first time the campus has had a delayed response to emergency situations, and certainly not the first time students have found their safety to be at risk. Campus Safety, serving as one of the few barriers between events like these and students, needs to take notice of their response time to inform students of safety concerns.

Over the past two years, there have been a number of unsettling occurrences regarding the safety of students in residential halls, walking at night and areas on campus overall. One example that comes to mind is the instance where an individual groped women as they walked around the campus shortly after dusk throughout the course of last year. As far as the student population knows, this man was never specifically identified, nor caught. These incidents were reported at least four separate times in the 2020-2021 academic year to the student body through safety alerts. 

Walking back from a building late a night quickly became a frightening experience for many students, especially those who were targeted by this individual. Students earlier this school year stumbled upon an individual who was not affiliated with IWU that had been seeking shelter in the basement of Funsell. 

This individual did not threaten the safety of students but  the possibility of any individual entering a residence hall with ease is nonetheless frightening. Any building that is not using a student card-swipe at a door can be entered by an individual with bad intentions. Though this instance has thankfully not occurred on our campus, understanding that concerns such as these need to be kept in mind is important. The response time of Campus Safety is crucial in preserving the safety of the students and faculty of this campus. 

If a heightened response time had been provided by Campus Safety, then perhaps many of these incidents could have been avoided, and the perpetrator could have been caught. A possible solution would be to disperse Campus Safety officers throughout campus, creating stations to reside in high-traffic buildings such as State Farm Hall or The Ames Library in the evening hours, rather than just solely in The Memorial Center. Therefore, a quick response to any dangerous incident is almost guaranteed.

In light of the most recent event, I believe it is appropriate to say that the student body would have appreciated a much more prompt alert to an armed individual. Along with instances of gunfire in the Downtown Bloomington area, our campus is not entirely removed from potential harm. When events like these do occur, it is extremely important that the student body can keep themselves safe. But this is not possible when alerts are only sent out after the area is cleared, rather than alerting students to seek safety when it would actually be helpful. If an individual planning to do harm were to enter our campus, I would fear that the Campus Safety alert would not do much good. 

Because we live in an area where it is possible for events such as these to occur, full disclosure between the police, Campus Safety, and the campus community is a necessity. Responding to emergency situations in a timely manner would certainly make students feel far safer on this campus.

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