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Jill Behrman Color the Campus 5K is reminder of campus safety



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Participants run through blue powder at the last color station of the Jill Behrman Color the Campus 5K Run/Walk on Saturday. This was the 18th running of the JB5K. Marlie Bruns Buy Photos

The polychromatic evidence of a color run was visible early Saturday afternoon all across campus. 

A key card reader stamped with vibrant powder, blue patches on the walls of a dormitory elevator where an exhausted runner had rested and streets dunked in yellow, red, blue and green powder were all telltale signs of the Jill Behrman Color the Campus 5K Run/Walk. 

That morning, 1,300 people arrived at the Student Recreational Sports Center for the 5K. The 18th annual run memorialized the disappearance and death of Jill Behrman, a student who disappeared from campus after a solo bike ride in May 2000. In October of 2000, the run was created to keep the memory of Jill alive and raise awareness for campus safety.

Marilyn Behrman, Jill’s mother and a staff member in the Media School, said the first thing that comes to mind when she thinks of Jill is her smile. 

She said that growing up, Jill played sports with the boys. She played a multitude of sports including soccer, basketball, softball and volleyball.

Participants in this year's JB5K Color Run dance at the post-run party. The dance took place on Saturday in front of Student Recreational Sports Center.  Xiaoan Guan Buy Photos

“She was very much into fitness and just healthy lifestyle,” Behrman said.

Behrman also said that Jill had a passion for bike riding. In the summer between high school and her freshman year at IU, Jill biked from Bloomington to Atlantic City, New Jersey with deCycles Indiana, a youth leadership program that organizes cross-country bike rides for students aged 13-24.

Behrman said she thinks campus safety has improved since Jill’s disappearance. She points to personal safety workshops, which are benefited by proceeds of the 5K, the Culture of Care project and the Indiana Lifeline Law as signs that IU is doing more to ensure the safety of students on campus.

While student awareness may have improved through these efforts, the numbers are less optimistic. 

According to the Uniform Crime Report compiled by the FBI, 10 violent crimes were reported on Bloomington’s campus in 2000. The number of violent crimes occurring each year varies wildly between zero violent crimes in 2009 and the high of 38 violent crimes in 2015.

Violent crimes include murders, rapes, robberies and assaults. 

From 2000 to 2005, an average of 17.6 violent crimes occurred on campus each year.

From 2006 to 2011, an average of 10 violent crimes occurred on campus each year.

From 2013 to 2016, an average of 22.75 violent crimes occurred on campus each year. No data was reported for 2012.

Overall, between 2000 and 2016, an average of 16 violent crimes occurred on campus each year.

The FBI cautions against comparing crime rates between universities of similar sizes because of the numerous different variables at play at local law enforcement between universities. 

Chris Geary, service director for evaluation, special projects and special events at IU Recreational Sports and event organizer for the Jill Behrman 5K, says she feels it’s hard to know if campus safety has improved.

Geary said that in part, it’s hard to tell if the situation has improved because we’re talking about campus safety much more than we did 18 years ago. She points to addresses by former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden on campus sexual assault as signs that awareness for issues of violence on college campuses has improved.

“You have these high-level public officials saying, 'We can't have this keep going on,' Geary said. “It's really hard to say, but I don't feel like it's gotten better. I'm always hopeful."

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