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      Safety escorts stressed in wake of assaults

      In lieu of this past week's assaults on Western Illinois University's campus, the school wants to remind you there are programs to ensure WIU remains a safe campus.

      "We will not tolerate acts of violence in our community and we will not allow those students -- and their guests -- who choose to break the law and cause continual disruption to be a part of this institution," Gary Biller, vice president for student services said. "President (Jack) Thomas has asked that I work with leaders across campus to review security issues and concerns to further enhance safety on campus."

      The Office of Public Safety offers a free security escort service, which is available during the evening and overnight hours to anyone on campus.

      It's available during the evening and overnight hours to anyone on campus. All it takes is a phone call to OPS (309-298-1949) and a member of the student patrol or an OPS officer will arrive at the caller's location and walk her/him to the desired location on campus.

      "This is a service we publicize through the student handbook and our safety website, and we talk about this service at orientation. Our team police, who work in the halls, have information about escort services. We promote this free service at every available opportunity," Tom Clark, interim director of public safety said. "For the 2011-2012 academic year, we provided approximately 235 escorts. No one should ever be embarrassed about calling us. We are here to help."

      Also, the Women's Center and Campus Recreation, sponsors Rape Aggression Defense training for female students, faculty and staff, as well as female community members. Topics covered include avoiding victimization, patterns of date rape encounter, basic principles of defense, full-speed hands-on exercise and dynamic simulation training. Lifetime re-training is free, and previous participants are welcome to attend the courses at no cost.

      Safety tips and information are also shared with students and parents at orientation sessions, and are included in student publications such as the annual handbook/calendar, and OPS officers are available to speak to organizations and groups about safety-related topics. In addition, each residence hall complex is assigned a team police officer, who has an office in the residence hall and patrols the halls and the surrounding areas every evening.