The parents of an Indiana University student from Westchester County missing for more than 17 months hope that some suggestions they've heard from other students for improved campus safety become reality in the wake of her disappearance.
The parents of Lauren Spierer attended freshman honors classes Wednesday discussing ideas for The Lauren Project aimed at increasing awareness of potential dangers that students face. The 20-year-old Spierer from Greenburgh, N.Y., was last seen during the early morning hours of June 3, 2011, after a night of partying with friends in downtown Bloomington.
Suggestions from the classes included a revamped night shuttle service and a campaign encouraging all students to have a friend with them whenever out at night, The Herald-Times reported.
"In a school of 40,000, it's so easy to feel alone. That's not how it should be," 18-year-old Julianne Howell, of St. Louis, said during her group's presentation. "We want this idea to mean that we're all there. The idea needs to spread to a mentality. Every single night, you look out for each other."
Her group's proposal would have stores carry Hoosier Buddy merchandise, bars give discounts to those wearing Hoosier Buddy gear and bouncers and bartenders ask whether patrons have buddies with them.
"We actually hope it grows into a mentality," group member Alyssa Sheets of Munster said after the presentation. "College is a time when people drink an obscene amount of alcohol and expand their horizons experimenting with unhealthy substances."
Robert and Charlene Spierer traveled from their New York home to listen to students' ideas.
They spent weeks in Bloomington after their daughter disappeared and hundreds of volunteers joined searches around Bloomington and parts of the surrounding wooded countryside that is dotted with old limestone quarries and lakes. They've said they assume their daughter is dead.
"It would be so nice to see it go forth and to do some good somewhere, because it's a tragedy for our family, so something positive would be great," Charlene Spierer told WTHR-TV.
Robert Spierer said the students' ideas could improve safety, pointing to the push by several college student groups that helped lead to a new state law that shields people from alcohol-related arrests if they seek medical help for those who are dangerously intoxicated.
"You saw the student power with the lifeline law," he said. "We're happy to be a part of that."