Prominent Iowa murders raise security concerns at Simpson


Simpsonian file photo

by Taylor Williams, Staff Writer

One of Simpson College’s concern for students is campus safety. With recent events in Iowa such as the deaths of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts and 22-year-old Celia Barquin Arozamena, some students are concerned and feel as though the school could do more.  

Sophomore psychology major Sarah Swinton said that after the death of the women, she doesn’t feel safe, especially as a woman.

“You would think that in a small town like Indianola it wouldn’t be an issue, but you think that about where Mollie Tibbetts was from or a golf course. I’ve really been considering the cautions I should take moving forward,” Swinton said.

Graphic by Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian

Iowa also has history with human trafficking. The Polaris Project recorded that in 2016, Iowa was ranked in the country’s top 100 sites for suspected trafficking. It was also reported that there were 74 Human Trafficking cases in Iowa in 2017 by the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

The Simpsonian previously reported on suspected attempts of human trafficking on campus involving text messages, which turned out to be unrelated to criminal activity.

Head of Security, Chris Frerichs said that students’ safety is sometimes all he thinks about and the school is working diligently to keep the campus a safe environment for all.

Frerichs advises that if students must walk alone, especially at night, they should try to stay in areas that are well lit. Let others know of your plans, route, and when you plan to arrive or be back, he said.

If you students are walking on campus and feel unsafe, there are many things currently installed on campus to help provide a safe environment, such as emergency blue light safety phones and 24-hour ride services. Simpson recently installed locks on the interior of classrooms in case the campus needs to shelter-in-place or lockdown.

Sophomore senator on the Student Government Association, Melanie Gillet, feels like there is always room for improvement.

Simpson College is a safe campus, but just because something works does not mean it cannot be improved upon,” Gillet said.

Gillet mentioned that the SGA pushed for the installment of security cameras last year, but it never went through.

“Another SGA senator and I contacted the security staff and Luke Behaunek about potentially putting security cameras in hallways, entrances and exits in first-year residential dorm areas. After some short emails, Behaunek said he was looking into security cameras for residential areas and that he would follow up after he received more information. The issue was never resolved,” Gillet said.

Gillet said that there were likely other factors that explained why the college didn’t receive security cameras, but that it was still a disappointment to see the issue go unresolved.

But according to Marisa DeForest, senior class president, Simpson may see these cameras after all. The SGA has discussed potential plans for more emergency safety phones and  surveillance cameras in parking lots.

“I personally do feel safe when I am on campus mostly because I feel confident in the layout of campus and know where I can go in case of emergency,” DeForest said.

However, she doesn’t like walking alone on campus at night.

“I do not blame Simpson for this, I blame the nature of our society lately,” she said.

DeForest would like to see more lights around campus, and it seems that Simpson may make this change soon.

Frerichs said there has been a number of light upgrades on campus. He wanted to remind students to make sure exterior doors to residence halls and apartments are shut and secure and to not allow unauthorized or unknown individuals access to their building.  

If students ever feel unsafe on campus, they should report any issues to security at 515-961-1711 or go to the security office in the Kent Campus Center.