CRIME AND COURTS
Safe IU Bloomington blog becomes new public resource
By Kelly Evans
For the past several months, IU’s department for Public Safety and Institutional Assurance has worked to develop a new blog page,
The department said it hopes to create more traffic on the blog and make it a new, popular public resource for information related to Bloomington crime and safety.
“The impetus for this started last fall when students were concerned about safety related incidents that happened off-campus that our police are not involved with,” Tracy James, assurance communications manager for IU, said.
Last September, the Bloomington Police Department responded to a string of connected break-ins on the south side of campus — two break-ins involved sexual assault attempts. Some break-in victims were IU students.
James said the IU Police Department did not respond to these calls because of IUPD’s limited radius.
“IUPD’s jurisdiction is campus property,” James said. “IU-Notify emergency alerts warn of threats occurring on campus or heading toward campus, like a tornado or armed suspect.”
Although IU-Notify and other similar alert systems are helpful for students, James said student leaders expressed concerns and a desire for additional resources about threats that take place off-campus, but still close enough to affect students.
“Some of those incidents occurred three and four miles off campus, and so it’s just a matter of we don’t even know about these things,” James said.
Senior Sara Zaheer, president of the IU Student Association and a member of the Campus-Community Coalition, played a vital role in the development of the new blog. Because of her leadership positions, Zaheer said she has special access to crime information and campus safety officials. However, not all students have this ability.
“One of the platform initiatives we ran on last year as REAL for IUSA was to connect students to more information about crime happening in their neighborhoods since a majority of students live off-campus,” Zaheer said. “We know the University’s notification system has its own guidelines and limitations, but we wanted to see a place where students could opt in for information about recent events or trends in crime.”
With the help of the Public Safety and Institutional Assurance department, the Safe IU Bloomington blog was developed. Any time IUPD or BPD report an incident, especially one that could be threatening to students, James and her department will inquire about further information and attempt to update the blog with a post.
Relevant topics that are featured in recent posts include details about the upcoming tornado drill testing, harassment reports and two vehicle fires that occurred at a parking lot off-campus last month.
Aside from posts with information and small article-type blurbs, the blog has a resources tab which identifies links, like the IUPD and BPD social media pages, a Bloomington crime map, legal services for students and more.
The blog encourages student interaction and engagement, like compiling pictures of students who used the hashtag #IUShelterSelfie in preparation for this week’s tornado testing.
“This was a way for students to directly give input about where they get their information from and how they would like the University to communicate with them,” Zaheer said.
James said she is interested in hearing student feedback and what they think is helpful information in order to adjust and evolve the blog further.
“Now on the Safe IU Bloomington blog, they can learn more about what’s going on in the community and get preventative tips to have a safer experience during their time here,” Zaheer said.
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