Iowa State ramps up campus safety measures since murder of ISU golfer

'We saw a huge increase and spike for self-defense training'

CEDAR FALLS — In the days and weeks after an Ames homeless man was accused of killing an accomplished Iowa State University golfer, campus police received a barrage of security inquiries and requests from students and parents for things like better lighting, self-defense training and earlier “safe rides” on campus.

Michael R. Newton, head of the ISU Department of Public Safety, said the campus has responded by expanding the hours it offers what are known as safe rides — free rides from public safety escorts during overnight hours — and bolstering safety-related training and educational opportunities.

“After the death of Celia, we saw a huge increase and spike for self-defense training,” Newton told the Board of Regents on Friday.

That department’s training program used to have one full-time person, and it now has two.

“We were able to receive funding to fund a full-time person who is working strictly with minority students and international students so that we can bridge that gap and do some more education and safety training in that area,” Newton said.

Celia Barquin Arozamena — an ISU senior in civil engineering and 2018 Big 12 golfing champion — was found stabbed to death Sept. 17 in water near the ninth tee at the Clearwater Links Golf Course in Ames. She was an international student from Puente San Miguel, Spain, and authorities believe she was golfing alone at the course when she was attacked.

Collin Daniel Richards, 22, was arrested at a nearby homeless encampment and charged with first-degree murder. If convicted, Richards could face life in prison without parole. He has pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on $5 million cash-only bail.

In addition to self-defense training and expanded safe-ride hours, Iowa State’s Department of Public Safety has reviewed its emergency notification system and exterior camera system.

“And after Celia’s death, it became really important to talk about the homeless issue near college campuses,” Newton told the Board of Regents.

In the past, ISU has been proactive in its efforts to move homeless encampments off campus, connect those affected with help and resources, and partner with housing projects committed full-time to those efforts. After the homicide, though, Iowa State redoubled its efforts and improved collaboration with the City of Ames.

“We are reassigning officers to bike and foot patrol, we’re trying to be more visible on campus,” Newton reported. “It’s hard though, with 36,000 students and there’s 40 of us.”

Iowa State is expanding its number of committees and groups dedicated to safety and security, Newton said, reporting a new student group now meets with department administrators biweekly.

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