One of the tools in place to defend against sexual assaults on the University of Iowa campus isn’t being used much any more. There are 22 “code blue” emergency phones on campus — towers that light up as the sun sets.
Records show through late April, the phones have been used only 16 times this year and none were for emergencies. Chuck Green is the U-I Director of Public Safety. “With the introduction of cell phones, students can make emergency calls regardless of where they’re located on the campus,” Green says. Some of the calls this year have involved a child pushing the button, another for a malfunction, and one for a person who lost their glasses and needed help.
Green says despite the decline in use, the machines will remain in place. He says 10 of the machines have cameras added to the top, making them multi-functional. Karla Miller, executive director of Rape Victims Advocacy Program (RVAP) in Iowa City, says while there are a lot of defenses set up to protect students from random attacks on campus — a majority of sexual assaults happen inside apartments, homes, or dorm rooms.
She says 85 percent of sexual assaults are made by people that are known and trusted by the victim. “It’s not to say that (stranger rapes) don’t happen, but the vast majority are people that you know,” Miller says. Miller say the best defense against the biggest threat, acquaintance rape, is public education.
(Reporting by Mark Carlson, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids)