STORY BY ANNA ZAVELL
The amount of crime that has continued to happen on or near Drake’s campus recently has students worried.
In particular, students have expressed concern with the amount of information they are given, or not given, when such events happen.
For example, in the case of the double homicide that was discovered a few weeks ago, the Des Moines Register was able to put out a story about the event before students ever received a timely warning.
“(Timely Warnings) aren’t very clear and don’t always say if we should feel like we should be concerned or not,” said Drake student Maddie Hiatt.
Although a timely warning was sent the next morning, students expressed their aggravation through social media.
“We issue a Bulldog Alert when we believe there is an active or ongoing threat to the campus,” director of Public Safety Scott Law said. “If we believe it is a past tense criminal event that has happened either on our campus or fairly close to the campus, we issue timely warnings because we want student to take precautions. We have to be careful not to send out timely warnings so much that students start to not pay attention to them.”
Since the start of school, there has been a number of reported gunfire incidents within a few blocks east of campus. Although these events haven’t happened on-campus, some students live in apartments much closer to the crime scenes.
There was also the incident of armed robbers hiding on Greek Street during Rush Week.
“I live in Ross, so when I get a Bulldog Alert I end up sort of running home,” sophomore Hannah Bigot said. “(They’re) not very timely so I would like to know a little sooner what is going on.”
The majority of Drake’s Greek students were outside of their houses preparing for the days’ activities.
“The timely warnings are ineffective, I think,” sophomore Sami Clarke said. “It wasn’t until a few days later we got a message about the robber hiding near Alpha Phi’s house and that’s something we should know about right away.”
Law explained that other media sources covered follow-ups on the story, so if Drake put out another statement, he wasn’t sure if it would be effective.
“I’m not sure if us, being Drake University, putting out a statement… when it is covered widely on news medias… would help student needs (in crime follow ups),” Law said. “But it is something we possibly need to talk about with student media sources or other methods of reaching students to give that extra information.”
Since then, Drake Public Safety has taken steps to help better student safety both on and off campus.
Drake recently hired a Des Moines police officer to work exclusively on campus from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. every day of the week. This officer is dedicated to Drake’s campus and is not part of the normal rotation, giving an active presence daily.
Drake also offers free rides on the Safe Ride bus to students traveling on- and off-campus.
“We introduced the Safe Ride Bus this year and have been doing very well,” Law said. “We have been doing between 700 – 800 rides a week. We added the second bus in hopes of encouraging students to take the bus instead of walking around the area.”