By KATIE SIMPSON
Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena was murdered on a golf course in Ames, Iowa last Monday according to KCCI. A week of tributes and celebrations honoring the young golfer filled the Iowa State community and Iowa as a whole, making national news. Over a week later, people are beginning to ask how to move forward.
At Drake University, there are several programs and departments designed to keep students safe and provide resources after unsafe situations may occur.
“I think sometimes people feel like in Iowa we’re in this little pocket, and things don’t happen, but it happens,” said Katie Overberg, the Title IX Coordinator for Drake.
Overberg is trained to offer assistance to students specifically regarding sexual assault, sexual harassment and stalking.
“I am an office of one, and I don’t report to the provost or to student affairs,” Overberg said. “I’m kind of an island in myself because it’s my job to make sure those offices are following the policies and doing the right thing when a complaint comes forward.”
There are several resources that a student can utilize depending on their situation and how they want to move forward.
“Some students come in and definitely know they want to file a complaint against somebody,”Overberg said. “They want an investigation done, they want a final report and an outcome. Informal [reporting] is ‘I just want to feel safe. I’m not looking into punishment, I’m not looking at that, just what can I do to help me feel safe on campus.’”
Overberg also wants students to be sure that when they come to her or Drake Public Safety in these types of situations, they will not be pushed into a formal case if that is not how the student wishes to proceed.
“It’s important to understand that people need to feel comfortable getting help in the way they want to get the help,” Overberg said.
If a student wishes to speak with a confidential resource, they can contact the counseling center or the student-led group, Violence Intervention Partners.
“VIP is a confidential advocate for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence,” said Jade Spady, a senior on her second year with VIP. “We also help you with getting certain resources for stress release, or mental illnesses or anything like that. We really are there for a wide variety of students, and if we can’t personally help them, we have all the resources to put them in the right direction.”
Some students call the VIP hotline to chat about their day. Spady says that each case is very different, and it depends on everyone’s needs.
Additionally, Spady noted that students seem to be taking greater precautions to be safe after the recent events that occurred in Iowa, but she thinks there is more work to be done.
“We have the resources,” Spady said. “We have the safe ride bus that gives 30,000 rides a year, we have all of these great things, so take advantage of them, and don’t have this mentality that it could never happen to you.”
Scott Law, the executive director of Public Safety and University Operations, has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years.
“I’m of the firm belief that one death is one death too many,” Law said.
Drake’s Department of Public Safety strives to be an ‘omnipresent’ force on campus and in the neighborhood.
“When it comes to colleges and universities, I think we have a responsibility to try and provide our students and faculty and staff and members of our community with as many tools as we can to help make them safe,” Law said.
While a survey conducted four years ago by the office of Student Affairs shows that more than 90 percent of students feel very safe on campus, Law says there are still precautions they should take such as locking their doors and not walking alone.
Law also mentioned that students should download the Drake Guardian app. According to the Public Safety website, the app includes a safety timer that allows the user to set contacts as “guardians” who can then access an individual’s profile and location while the timer is in use. Most importantly, the website says, “if the Safety Timer is not deactivated manually before it expires, Public Safety is automatically provided with your Rave Guardian profile to proactively identify and check in on you.”
Law said that this is simply another step that students can take to be safer.
“I know that you’re not always going to be able to walk with someone else,” Law said. “I know that it’s the safer thing to do, and I don’t always do it. So, having that app and having that ability to, if you need help, get it quickly is essential and a good thing for us to do.”
Above everything else, Law said not to let these tragedies impede people from living their lives.
“I was a police officer in New York when 9/11 hit,” Law said. “And I know that a lot of people, including many of us, were concerned, and people didn’t want to go about their regular day-to-day activities. They were concerned about what was going to happen. If we do that, then the people who are perpetrating these types of crimes win.”
If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, call Drake Public Safety at 811 or the Des Moines Police Department at 911. To access a list of reporting resources, and to learn more about Drake’s policies, go to drake.edu/titleix. The confidential VIP hotline can be reached 24/7 at (515) 512-2972.