Remembering Lauren

This Sunday, June 3, marks the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of IU Bloomington student Lauren Spierer.

Though it’s been a year since this sad and unfortunate event, Lauren remains in the hearts and minds of everyone at IU Bloomington, including the thousands of volunteers who have committed themselves to helping find her and the many individuals, including Lauren’s fellow students, who are working tirelessly to ensure a friendly, safe and welcoming campus environment.

Lauren Spierer

Beginning this month, most students who will enter IU Bloomington in the fall will take part in new student orientation. During this annual introduction to campus life and learning, they’ll receive an overview of how to register for classes, what will be expected of them in the classroom, how to pick up their student ID and the many extracurricular opportunities available to them.

They’ll also engage in meaningful conversations about issues concerning student safety, support services and health and wellness. Leading these discussions will be current IU students who have gone through a rigorous training program to become part of the university’s orientation staff. Members of the “OTEAM” will answer questions from students and their parents, provide directions and help incoming freshmen ease their transition to IU.

Many first-year students and their families will, undoubtedly, have questions and concerns about campus safety. OTEAM members are armed with the knowledge, insights and experience to help new students and their families feel as comfortable as possible on such a large Big Ten campus as IU Bloomington, knowing that members of the campus community look after each other and make safety a key priority.

IU’s newly launched “Street Smart” campaign, which will be part of new student orientation, builds on this notion of sharing responsibility for maintaining campus safety. Developed for students by students, this lighthearted approach to serious subject matter encourages students to engage in a conversation – and to listen to one another – about the importance of making smart choices and where to turn when faced with a potentially dangerous situation.

IU's new "Street Smart" campaign builds on the notion of shared responsibility for maintaining campus safety.

In just a few short months, the plastic animal figurines who star in the Street Smart campaign (including Hank the giraffe, who likes pro wrestling, and Ed the dog, who wants to be a motivational speaker) have become the talk of town, Twitter and Facebook, while exposing students to important information about personal and mental health, social life and campus safety. They are also directing people to other online resources like Protect IU, the IU Health Center and Safety Escort.

In remembering Lauren and hoping for answers to her disappearance, we can take pride in the care and compassion demonstrated by so many members of IU and the surrounding community and in the continuing efforts of her fellow students, who are doing all they can to make the university a safe and secure setting for all.

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