Iowa’s public universities report a decline in conduct violations on campus

Representatives from each state institution presented to the state Board of Regents on Sept. 14 where all three agreed COVID-19 influenced student behaviors.

Grace Katzer, News Reporter

Iowa’s three public universities reported conduct violations and criminal offenses decreased over the past year at the state Board of Regents meeting on Sept. 14.

At the meeting, student life representatives from the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa agreed conduct numbers have gone down, partially crediting the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on student behavior.

Additionally, the regents’ Campus and Student Affairs Committee discussed student life at each university through student engagement strategies. The committee monitors and reviews campus safety and security reports for the regents.

The UI Vice President for Student Life Sarah Hansen said the university’s conduct numbers have decreased significantly in the last few years.

“It might surprise you to learn that our conduct numbers are actually way down,” Hansen said. “We had many more issues with vandalism in the halls during lockdown periods where [students] were sort of cooped up.”

Infographic by Jami Martin-Trainor/The Daily Iowan

At the universities, criminal offenses have decreased significantly:

  • UI offenses went down 5 percent from 118 violations in 2018 to 112 in 2020.
  • UNI offenses went down 38 percent from 29 violations in 2018 to 18 in 2020.
  • ISU offenses went down 43 percent from 47 offenses in 2018 to 27 in 2020.

Being outside and in the community again brought out the best in students, Hansen said.

“It’s really refreshing for our student leaders who are RAs who don’t have to constantly be addressing that aspect of student behavior,” she said.

Hansen said the UI has also seen fewer alcohol-related issues such as vandalism and harassment.

UNI’s Vice President for Student Life Heather Harbach said the overall appreciation students have for campus life is not being taken for granted.

“There is a sense of being grateful. Grateful to be back, grateful to see people, and grateful to have face-to-face contact,” Harbach said.  “When you think about all we haven’t been able to do the last two years, it really makes you appreciate what we can do now.”

Harbach led the division of student life presentation to the regents, emphasizing the UNI’s goal to help prepare students for success.

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ISU’s Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Toyia Younger further supported the decrease in conduct violations on college campuses.

“There has been a decrease in the amount of conduct cases, and that’s encouraging,” Younger said. “From conversations I have had with students, it’s to the point that Heather made, they don’t want to lose it.”

The latest Campus Safety and Security reports from the U.S. Department of Education support the drop in conduct numbers over the last three years. Violence Against Women Act violations on state institution campuses have overall decreased from 2018-20, as have arrests for law violations on campuses:

  • UI law violations went down 73 percent from 22 arrests in 2018 to 6 in 2020
  • UNI law violations went down 18 percent from 51 arrests in 2018 to 42 in 2020
  • ISU law violations went down 80 percent from 307 arrests in 2018 to 61 in 2020

Additionally, disciplinary actions on UI, ISU, and UNI campuses from 2018 to 2020 also showed a decline:

  • UI violations went down 40 percent from 591 in 2018 to 357 violations in 2020
  • UNI went down 42 percent from 135 violations in 2018 to 231 violations in 2020
  • ISU went down 32 percent from 254 violations in 2019 to 372 violations in 2020

The 2021 Campus Safety and Security report for the three universities will not be released until the end of the year.