For car trouble or a walk in the dark, help is available

Shrinking daylight this time of year means more faculty and staff may be crossing campus or returning to their vehicles in the dark. The ISU Police department offers several options to enhance personal safety.

ISU Guardian is a mobile app that can be used by anyone with a Net-ID on or off campus. A user sets a timer for the estimated length of time it will take to reach their car, home or other destination. Their designated "guardian" receives a notification to follow a GPS location on a map and will be alerted if that person doesn't make it to their destination on time. ISU Police can be designated as guardian from 6 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

"If you need assistance, the button is right there on your phone to let your guardian know or to contact ISU Police," said Natasha Greene, ISU Police engagement and inclusion officer. "It's a way to speed up the process to get help if you need it."

The app also has a contact list of emergency and non-emergency personnel, push notifications about campus activity and crime, and a tip button for easy submissions to ISU Police.

SafeRide offers free transportation throughout central campus and other university areas between 6 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. all year. The service extends to visiting scholars, postdocs and their families in addition to faculty, staff and students. To use SafeRide, call 294-4444, or download the app. Uniformed student community service officers fulfill requests in ISU-marked vehicles.

ISU Help Van can assist faculty, staff and students with a range of vehicle issues on campus, from providing a jump-start to a shovel to clear snow. It is available 24/7, also by calling 294-4444. 

Personal safety

Greene said trying to eliminate whatever is causing concern can be helpful. If walking at night is an issue, she recommends carrying a flashlight. It also can reduce the likelihood of slipping or falling, especially during winter months.  

"Always be aware of your surroundings," Greene said. "It's not because something bad is going to happen to you, but at Iowa State we like to see a community care model where people are paying attention enough that they notice if someone else needs help."

The effectiveness of self-defense tools vary from person to person. The best ones are usually those available to a person at all times like their hands, elbows, knees and feet, Greene said.

"If you're going to have any kind of safety tool, it needs to be easily accessible, you need muscle memory to use the tool and, most importantly, you need to be able to retain the tool so it can't be used against you."


ISU Police offers a free self-defense course to faculty, staff and students that focuses on situational awareness, personal self-defense devices, and general physical skills and techniques.

Greene said groups of people are preferred, and groups are asked to give two weeks' notice and multiple dates for the course. Requests can be emailed to

Groups also can request presentations like "Know Your Rights: Harassment 101" or "How to Address Your Fears" from engagement and inclusion officers. Greene said these presentations are gaining popularity and can help in situations such as verbal altercations.