Leaders from Grinnell College and the City of Grinnell are taking steps to respond after students say passing motorists have yelled racial epithets.

Grinnell College is distributing safety kits, has put up temporary lighting and may install security cameras in some areas of the campus. Grinnell Mayor Dan Agnew says a city street that runs through the campus was temporarily barricaded for a few days.

“Just a lot of verbal activity,” Agnew told KGRN, “and some of the students are starting to feel just a little threatened.”

Earlier this month, racist graffiti was scrawled on cars and campus signs. Grinnell’s mayor and Grinnell College president Anne Harris have issued a joint statement, calling for anyone who sees or experiences racist harassment or vandalism to report it to Grinnell Police.

“We are as a community and then, specifically, black constituents, enduring this sustained and aggravated racial harassment,” she told KGRN. “…We really need it to stop. It’s affecting individuals profoundly. It is affecting our community and we need to pull together against this kind of behavior.”

Grinnell College operates a shuttle service and students who are uncomfortable walking at night are being encouraged to call for rides on and off campus. Students can pick up safety kits that include flash lights and whistles at the Black Cultural Center and three other sites on campus. Classes resumed this week after fall break.

(By Tim Dill, KGRN, Grinnell)