Iowa Fraternity Working to Make Walking Across Campus Safer for College Students

By Michael Klazema on 11/9/2015
A fraternity at an Iowa college is working to make walking across campus safer for fellow students. In a society where headlines about campus assaults, armed robberies, rapes, and other alarming crimes seem to have hit an alarming high, it's not uncommon for students, particularly females, to feel uncomfortable walking alone at night.

While fraternities are often stereotyped as being a contributing factor in the sexual violence and misogyny that runs rampant on many college campuses, the Zeta Tau Psi (ZTY) fraternity at Luther College would prefer to be a part of the solution. Luther College is a small, private liberal arts institution based in Decorah, Iowa.

According to Luther College Chips, the self-described "student news site of Luther College," the ZTY fraternity wants to set up a "buddy system" of sorts. For the system, all 19 of the fraternity's current members are willing to participate and walk peers across campus at night. Each evening, a different group of fraternity members will be on call for the service. Luther College students will be able to call a local number and set up a meeting time and place with a ZTY member. The fraternity began considering the program after a sexual assault was reported on the Luther College campus on October 8th.

The ZTY buddy system hit a small snag when the fraternity realized that the Luther College administration would demand fairly in-depth background checks for the fraternity members. Since the system will work by allowing Luther students to set up meeting spots with ZTY fraternity brothers at night, the administration wants to make sure that each frat members is safe and trustworthy. The background checks will look for criminal history and other red flags that might cause pause or suggest ulterior motives.

Already, Luther College has a service available to students who are uncomfortable walking across campus alone at night, offered by the school's security department. However, one member of Zeta Tau Psi said that many students don't find Luther Security approachable. A buddy system where students can request the accompaniment of their peers, instead of walking with older or more unfamiliar security officers, will likely feel like the more comfortable, accessible option for many students.

The school's administration is absolutely making the right choice by demanding background checks for the ZTY brothers, though. The benefit of the Luther Security service is that the officers have all been vetted and hired by the college. The ZTY buddy system may be more "approachable" for students, but the fraternity members have not been subject to the same levels of scrutiny from school officials. By requiring background checks before the buddy system can officially begin operation, the Luther College administration is covering all bases and making sure that the people students are calling to walk them across campus are not the same threats they fear out there in the dark.

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