According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10.3% of undergraduate women on college campuses have experienced a form of sexual assault. For women and all students at IU, there are a variety of ways that can help them stay safe while walking around campus.
The Rave Guardian mobile app is a safety app made for colleges and universities and can be a tool for women when they plan to walk around campus by themselves. The “Safe Walk” feature allows the user to notify friends and family members when they are going out and how long it might take to get to their destination. If more time passes than is estimated, those family and friends are notified.
Safety experts recommend always keeping cell phones fully charged and nearby, so if there is an emergency people can call for help right away. There are blue light emergency phones located around IU, which are a direct line to the IU Police Department when the button is pressed.
IU Police Department Chief Jill Lees recommended multiple actions women can take when they walk around campus. She said the most important reminder is to be constantly aware of your surroundings.
“Be aware of your surroundings and know where your exits are at an event in case of an emergency,” Lees said. “Be aware of who is around you and how close they are to you. Don't wear headphones and look at your phone while walking, especially at night — that will greatly lower your awareness.”
She said students must be careful if using Uber or other rideshare services especially after incidents where students got in the wrong car, which sometimes has led to very dangerous or tragic situations.
An alternative to Uber is IU Ride — a ride service provided to students by IU so they don’t have to walk home at night. Students can request a ride through the TransLoc mobile app, and they will be picked up in an IU vehicle for no charge. IU Ride can drive two students anywhere on campus or in Bloomington’s city limits.
Middle Way House also offers resources for public safety. The organization’s mission is to empower survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, so it is also working to prevent abuse from happening in the first place, according to its website.
Middle Way House offers programs that teach sexual violence prevention to groups who want to learn how to stop sexual violence from occurring. These courses teach techniques on how to counter sexual violence, and Middle Way offers a course designed specifically for campus and community settings. A prevention presentation can be requested for classes and events through the organization’s website.
Debra Morrow, executive director of Middle Way House, says the organization offers many resources like counseling and emergency shelter to support people who have experienced a dangerous situation, mental health crisis or sexual assault.
“We don't ever blame the victims, and I think we need to hold accountability to the abusers, so it's not the job of the person to avoid being sexually assaulted, it should be the job of the person to not sexually assault,” Morrow said.
Middle Way House also has a 24-hour crisis line for those who feel they are in a dangerous situation. There is also a 24/7 walk-in service for people who want to talk with an advocate in person. The walk-in service can offer immediate support and does not require scheduling an appointment.