Thursday, March 2, 2023

The University of Iowa continues to make progress on campus safety and student well-being initiatives following recommendations from the Reimagining Campus Safety Action Committee (RCSAC) in August 2021.

Substantial progress was reported in spring 2022, and detailed updates are available in the Reimagining Campus Safety Implementation Team’s latest progress report.

The implementation team—co-chaired by Sara Sanders, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Angie Reams, associate vice president and dean of students—was formed in November 2021. The team organized into three work groups to begin implementing the four recommendations outlined in the final report.

“We are cultivating a community approach to safety that upholds the values of the institution and creates opportunities to continually review and improve our processes,” says Reams. “The university in an excellent position to fulfill the recommendations.”

Campus Safety Realignment

The university is in the process of realigning campus safety services under an organization to create a structure that supports approaching campus safety in a comprehensive and holistic way by providing both law enforcement and non-law enforcement options for mental health, crisis intervention, and follow-up. Read more.

In addition to fulfilling recommendations from the RCSAC, the action steps align with the UI Strategic Plan 2022-2027 around goals for holistic well-being and success by embedding well-being and mental health into all aspects of campus culture to better support students, faculty, and staff.

“I am grateful for the collaborative and comprehensive approach the implementation team has taken throughout this process,” says Sanders. “While our work is not yet complete, we have made significant progress in creating a plan and structure that will help the university invest in holistic safety services including mental health, case management, well-being, and basic needs support.”

Since the last update, progress includes:

Work Group One

(Recommendations 1 and 2): Provide non-law enforcement response options for mental health, basic needs, crisis intervention, and follow-up. Invest financial resources in holistic safety services, including mental health, case management, well-being, and basic needs (food, water, clothing, housing).


  • The work group has developed a model for a “continuum of prevention and response” on campus. This model outlines campus resources, services, and strategies for departments to reference when helping people in crisis and includes increased mental health and basic needs support, safety and emergency response services, and follow-up care where applicable. The model will serve as a vision for the university to work toward.
  • The work group has created a detailed five-year plan for investing financial resources in holistic support systems that consider mental, physical, emotional, and social well-being to prevent concerns before they occur.


  • Expand support for mental health by providing alternative, non-law enforcement transportation options and in-person response options for students experiencing a mental health crisis.
  • Construction is underway in the University Capitol Center for a centrally located space for campus safety services, outside of the current location, that will assist in creating a culturally inclusive, welcoming, and accessible physical space that invites students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors to seek assistance for any concern related to safety and well-being.
  • The Division of Student Life continues efforts to identify funding sources to relocate the cultural and resource centers.
  • Realign campus safety services to create a structure that supports approaching campus safety in a comprehensive and holistic way.

Work Group Two

(Recommendation 3): Create a Presidential Campus Safety and Accountability Board that pays particular attention to the experiences of marginalized campus members and includes members of shared governance and representatives of the broad UI community, charged with soliciting ongoing feedback, identifying metrics and measures of success, communicating concerns and recommendations, and facilitating transparent information sharing within the UI community.


  • The work group researched models of oversight provided by the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.
  • The work group consulted with multiple campus partners such as Employee and Labor Relations, the Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the Threat Assessment Team, to review the feasibility of various models (given applicable laws, policies, rules, and contractual provisions governing police disciplinary investigations), and gathered insight from peers on best practices and challenges.
  • The work group has recommended the formation of Campus Safety Improvement Board, which will be appointed by the president and trained and positioned to interact meaningfully with university police, the campus community, and campus leadership. Details regarding membership, structure, training, and roles can be found in the progress report.


  • Appoint the Campus Safety Improvement Board, begin member training, schedule regular meetings.

Work Group Three

(Recommendation 4): Collaborate with local public safety and community officials to align UI and surrounding community safety protocols in support of a holistic response approach.


  • The work group has completed a strategic communication plan to share key messages about safety and security throughout the year, with the goal of increasing community knowledge of campus safety services.
  • The work group has created a Campus Safety Student Advisory Board to engage student leaders with the UI DPS and increase communication between UI students and the department. The board has met once, and the pilot will continue meeting regularly through spring 2023.
  • To enhance existing collaboration, DPS is partnering with the Iowa City Police Department (ICPD) on a pilot project to provide a joint response to calls for service at fraternity and sorority life properties. These are private properties and fall into ICPD jurisdiction but have close campus affiliation. The joint response will provide an opportunity to build relationships, increase awareness about campus services and resources, and better align response protocols.


  • UI DPS continues to evaluate additional opportunities for response collaboration, especially in situations of obvious campus affiliation.
  • Provide training across agencies on a shared approach to response. Provide annual review of specific training opportunities and other practices that are in place supporting collaboration. Review memorandums of understanding with campus partners and surrounding jurisdictions to support positive relationships and align protocols.
  • Educate campus community about available diversion programs.

The university will continue this work over the spring and summer and provide regular updates to campus as significant progress is made.