Editor's Note: This story includes mention of sexual violence.
Students should never feel like they aren’t being heard, especially when it comes to their safety.
According to the IU Police Department crime log as of Oct. 9, 15 sexual assault cases and nine sexual batteries have been reported since the fall semester began Aug.19.
Everyone should be able to walk alone at night and not feel like something is going to happen to them. IU should provide more resources to make students feel safe on campus at all times.
According to IU NewsNet’s Sept. 30 report, IUPD changed its policy to no longer name specific locations of reported sexual assaults on its public crime log. However, IUPD said the policy didn't change, and it has always used discretion when disclosing the locations of sexual assaults.
If this is true, the decision should be left to the survivor whether or not they want to disclose the location.
Students haven’t felt IU or IUPD heard their concerns on this issue. Both institutions should not only listen to the students, but take action to show student safety is a priority.
“We are for students, and we want to ensure student safety,” IUPD Chief Jill Lees said in an interview with the IDS. “If students have a displeasure or want to voice their concern, we’re here to listen as well.”
Just listening isn’t enough. Although the policy is one of the reasons students are speaking out, what they really want is to feel heard and see changes that will make them feel safe while on campus.
Students organized a petition and scheduled a protest for Oct. 22 hoping IU and IUPD realize looking out for their reputation over student safety is unacceptable.
“We as students shouldn’t have to fight for proper protection,” IU sophomore and protest organizer Molly Ross said. “It’s disappointing for me and many that we are having to put this much energy to get the point across to IUPD, a department that is supposed to look out for the entire student body.”
Ross said she thinks the university should take more steps to implement programs that would teach the difference between right and wrong and how to step in and stop peers from doing wrong.
“There already are a lot of things teaching girls how to avoid sexual assault, but I do not see an equal amount or more for possible predators,” Ross said.
Ross said another improvement would be to create a safer space for victims to come forward. Although this may raise crime statistics and negatively impact IU's reputation, it’s a small price to pay for students to feel protected.
“It starts with reevaluating their morals,'' Ross said. “It should always be their first priority to acknowledge their flaws and do everything they can to correct them.”
When people are traveling at night, IU freshman Annabelle Lambert said some options are for IU to have people who could walk students home or to make IU Ride more available.
“As a woman, it is pretty much impossible to walk alone at night and not feel like you’re going to die, get kidnapped or assaulted,” Lambert said.
When students decided to organize a protest they felt like they were finally being heard. Lambert said the organizers had issues getting in contact with IU but overall she thinks they’re giving them a chance to express how they feel.
Ross said that by speaking out, students are trying to change the way IU deals with sexual assault cases. Those organizing the protest have received a great amount of support from student organizations.
“The amount of students who were so quick to want to help is overwhelming,” Ross said.
Speaking out has also helped victims come forward and let their voices be heard as well.
“A number of students and past students have come to me sharing their horror stories when dealing with IU departments in sexual assault cases,” Ross said.
IU and IUPD can work toward making campus a safer place by providing more resources for students when they feel unsafe.
Olivia Franklin (she/her) is a junior studying journalism with a minor in political science. She is a member of the swim club at IU and the Women in Media organization.