Editor's Note: This story includes mention of sexual violence.
As students return to campus, they’ll be walking to and from class, attending parties and hanging out with friends. With many people and activities both on-campus and in the city, it’s important to know best safety practices and resources available to you.
Here are some tips for IU students to enjoy their time in Bloomington safely.
Pay attention to your surroundings
IU Police Department Officer Hannah Skibba said new students should make an effort to learn the areas around them.
"Learning new building names, major intersections on campus, parking lots where they may be keeping a vehicle," Skibba said. "All those things are pretty well-labeled around campus."
Paying attention to street signs and keeping their eyes and ears open at all times, Skibba said, can help people locate a student if they need assistance. Although many people bury their heads in their phones while walking to class, Skibba recommended putting the phone away and watching out for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists. Wearing only one headphone instead of two allows students to better hear what's going on around them, Skibba said.
Freshman Aleser Raza said he has felt safe so far at IU. He credits this to helpful stations where people handed out maps and answered questions, and apps like Google Maps and Apple Maps which helped him navigate campus.
"There was definitely guiding stations around on the first day of school," Raza said. "They were handing out maps and stuff, so that was pretty nice."
Stay with friends while out at night
The “red zone” is known as the time when new students are most at risk for sexual assault. Studies have shown a spike in sexual assaults on college campuses from August to November, especially at night.
While out at a party, football game or late-night dinner, students should use the buddy system and alert others of where they are.
If students attend parties, Skibba said they should go with at least one other person and check on each other throughout the night. If a person chooses to drink, they should make sure they know what they're consuming and avoid putting their drink down.
"If it is later at night, walk back to your residence hall with a group," Skibba said. "If you for some reason find yourself alone, Uber and Lyft are so readily available. Pay the $10 and get a safe ride home."
Sophomore Abbey Gorny said they think partying should be done in moderation, and students should always let someone else know where they are, especially at night. They said they have had a couple of experiences where they felt like they were being followed while walking back to their dorm, so they called a friend to talk with them as they walked.
"It just made me feel like I wasn't alone," Gorny said. "If something in that moment were to happen, it just felt better knowing that someone would know about it and do something about it as fast as possible"
Help others when possible
Skibba said, when possible, students should try to intervene when they see a potentially dangerous situation like sexual harassment.
"We encourage students to step in and speak up if they see something that they don't feel comfortable about, or maybe they see somebody else is in an uncomfortable situation that can't speak up for themselves," Skibba said.
If students see a crime happening, they are encouraged to contact 911, campus police, their resident assistant or another trusted person. IU offers a list of emergency contacts on their website, including the Sexual Assault Crisis Line. Students can also make anonymous reports through EthicsPoint’s anonymous reporting hotline.
Indiana also has a Lifeline Law, which prevents people who may be underage drinking from getting in trouble with law enforcement if they call 911 to report a medical emergency or crime.
"We want everybody to have a good time but do so safely," Skibba said. “That includes watching out for each other.”
Know what resources are available to you
IU offers several resources for safety and mental health support.
IU Notify is IU’s mass communication tool for alerting students to severe weather, intruders and ongoing threats like robbery and sexual assault. Messages can be sent to cell phones, landlines, email and some desktop computers. Students can sign up for this tool at Protect IU.
The Guardian Safety App, free on the Apple Store and Google Play, features an inbox for IU Notify alerts, quick access to contact 911 and law enforcement along with more safety features.
Students can also make emergency calls of their own with the emergency phones around campus, which ring directly to the IUPD. These phones have a blue strobe light at the top which turn on to attract attention when the phone is activated. They are located in various spots around campus.
Students can log into the TransLoc app with their IU accounts to request a ride from IU Ride. IU Ride offers safe rides from 8 p.m. to 1:45 a.m., and IU Ride Late Nite by Lyft provides discounted rides between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. Students can request a ride by downloading Lyft, using their IU email address and following the instructions sent to their email. A list of service areas can be found on the IU Ride website.
Students who have experienced an incident of bias or other hateful acts can report it at reportincident.iu.edu.. IU’s Bias Response Team works to create an inclusive, respectful campus by allowing students to submit reports of bias they experience. The Bias Response Team reviews submitted bias reports and responds to students typically within 1-2 days of reporting. IU defines a bias incident as any act, speech or expression motivated by bias or prejudice that is meant to intimidate, marginalize, threaten, degrade or demean an individual or group based on their real or perceived identity.
For victims of sexual assault, services like the Office for Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy and IU Sexual Assault Crisis Services are available. IUPD offers a Rape Aggression Defense course which teaches methods of self-defense for dangerous situations.
IU’s website also offers tips on what to do immediately after experiencing sexual assault. These tips include getting to a safe place and contacting a trusted person as soon as possible and preserving evidence by avoiding showering and changing clothes,
The Student Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services are available for any physical and mental health needs, and Student Legal Services offers confidential legal advice and representation to all students.