STORY BY SARAH GROSSMAN
August 30, at approximately 3 a.m. students Faith Brar, senior magazine journalism and English double major, and Ricardo Martinez, senior public relations and marketing double major, were mugged while walking to 34th street.
East of 23rd street, the students were in an area of town known for being unsafe, especially at night.
Scott Law, Director of Campus Public Safety, gave his advice.
“Strong recommendation from us would be students shouldn’t be walking (in) that area by themselves,” Law said.
Brar and Martinez were returning from an off-campus going away party for a friend.
“We left the house because we had just had a party for a friend who was leaving to go back to Spain,” Brar said. “We were pretty sad. We weren’t really thinking. We were alone, plus I felt safe because I was with a guy.”
As they were walking, Martinez noticed three men following.
“He was the one who noticed there were three African American men following us,” Brar said. “He suggested I call 911 and I said, ‘I’m not racial profiling. I’m not going to call 911.”’
Brar soon regretted that choice.
“By the time I realized they were following me, I felt like if I whipped out my phone and called 911. They would have just done something worse,” Brar said.
Law recommend that students always take safety precautions when feeling uncomfortable in these situations.
“I suggest that if students do see something that makes them uncomfortable, something that doesn’t feel right, let us know,” Law said. “Worse case we get there, and it was totally a nothing.”
As Brar and Martinez continued walking, the situation worsened.
“The faster we walked the closer they started getting, so they started walking faster as well,” Martinez said. “At some point, I was afraid for her safety more than anything.”
Brar was afraid.
“They were whistling and saying inappropriate comments. I was too rigid and too scared to use my phone,” Brar said. “I just closed my eyes and kept walking really fast. For some reason, the faster I walked, the closer they seemed to get to me.”
The three men following grabbed Brar’s purse and ran in the opposite direction. Nothing of value was inside the purse.
Martinez was the first to recover from the incident.
“My first question was if they had hurt her or touched her, and she said no,” Martinez said. “I was actually carrying her wallet in my hand so after that we just decided to call 911.”
The police responded and after searching the area, drove Brar and Martinez home.
“Both the Des Moines Police and Drake Public Safety drove around the area where the theft occurred,” Law said. “There was more security in that area for a few hours afterward.”
Although Brar and Martinez wish there was more security around Drake, they admit students can help prevent these incidents.
“Perhaps I do think it was also our fault. We were walking by ourselves at 3-3:30 in the morning,” Martinez said. “There are streets that aren’t safe.”
“We (Drake’s Community) are not risk-free,” Law said. “I don’t think you could find a college or university across the country that could claim that.”
Drake is taking additional methods to stay safe.
“We’ve introduced the Rave Guardian system — like a blue light in your pocket, an app created, and we’re getting good response from the students,” Law said.
He suggests all students take the time to download the app. It may prevent incidents such as this one, and keep students feeling safe and secure.
“I did feel safe,” Brar said. “But now I don’t.”