The University of Iowa is apparently more concerned about the potential emotional trauma students may experience from reading about a campus sex crime than giving them the proper information that could prevent them from becoming the next victim.
Earlier this week in the girls' shower in the freshmen dorm at UI, a peeping Tom was hiding inside a stall and recording a female with his camera phone. He was confronted by the girl and he ran away. When campus officers arrived on the scene, they found the man hiding in another location. After a brief physical altercation, the suspect escaped. A search of the surrounding neighborhood turned up nothing.
The campus alert system, known as Hawk Alert, sent out a message to warn students of the suspicious activity, except the alert was completely counterproductive. Not only did the e-mail arrive in students' inboxes 14 hours after the incident took place, it included a trigger warning for its sensitive subject matter, which might make some not even bother to read it. Here is what it said:
Trigger Warning: This warning addresses a report of sexual misconduct. Resources are available on and off campus to provide assistance. Contact RVAP for 24/7 support at (319) 335-6000 or at http://rvap.uiowa.edu/
That's it. Nothing else. No description of the suspect. Nada.
With a similar reaction to this story, the editor of The Tab wrote:
While I’m confused that it took the police over half a day to alert the students to a crime, what’s even more baffling is their decision to begin a campus-wide communique about an important active investigation with a phrase whose linguistic purpose is to stop certain people reading. Specifically – to stop people reading who might be offended or traumatized by sexual misconduct, who you’d think would want to be particularly alert about this sort of thing.
If there was a miscreant with an iPhone skulking around my campus trying to perve on unsuspecting freshmen, I’d want to know about it. I’d want to know my campus police force are working to keep me physically safe – not warning me off important information for fear of offending me.
If an email about an active investigation is important enough to send to a whole college, don’t send it wrapped in cotton wool. If people need to know, tell them.
An image of the "person of interest" was released by UI officials and according to The Daily Iowan, he has been located: