Campus mall becomes hot stop for Pokemon trainers

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A young Pokemon Go trainer searches the campus mall for Pokemon during the Welcome Back Fair. PHOTO/LEAH FICK
A young Pokemon Go trainer searches the campus mall for Pokemon during the Welcome Back Fair. PHOTO/LEAH FICK

Staff Writer

New books, a fresh set of classes, new faces and Pokemon? Rattatas, Pidgeys and Oddishes are among the many virtual creatures that have joined campus this fall, and the university has welcomed them with open arms.

Pokemon Go, the popular smartphone application released over the summer, has brought many people to the campus mall. Both students and non-students are taking advantage of the many virtual stops on campus.

Along with these virtual creatures came several virtual Pokestops and gyms that can easily be accessed by taking a quick stroll around campus.

Pokestops are where players—or trainers, in the game—go to stock up on free items to use in the game. Gyms are where trainers can go to battle their Pokemon against the current gym leader’s Pokemon in hopes of taking over that gym or leveling up. Currently there are two gyms and 12 Pokestops around the campus.

Living only minutes away from campus junior Bailey Ritsema made a few trips to campus over the summer to play Pokemon. “I was surprised at how many there were,” said Ritsema. “It really brings people to campus more.”

Chancellor Terry Allison also joined in on the fun by sharing a photo of a Zubat outside of the Administrative building on his Facebook page.
IUSB social media kept up with the hype by sharing photos and asking to be tagged in pictures taken of Pokemon on campus. Administrators even took it a step further by releasing a map with the locations of all the stops.

“With all the activity on campus, we decided a map with general locations of the Pokemon characters would be appreciated and show our acceptance of the phenomenon. It was a big hit,” said IUSB Director of Communications Ken Baierl.

Primarily the Pokestops are along the campus mall, which according to representatives from the IUSB Police Department, is a good location. It is open, visible and pretty well lit at night, all of these are of importance as playing at night seems to be a bit of a trend.

“Over the summer there were people here and there around 2 a.m. walking around playing,” said IUSBPD Interim Chief, Morris DeGeyter. “We do not ask them to leave but we do approach and advise them about personal safety.”

Although no incidents have been reported IUPD asks for students to be mindful of their surroundings, DeGeyter said.

“When there is a bunch of people, it is much safer, but when there are only one or two individuals concentrated on their phones, that is not safe,” said Sergeant Dennis Bernth.

IUSBPD representatives want to also remind students there is strength in numbers. So try not to come to campus alone in the midnight hours.

“We do our best to prevent incidents from happening but you do not want to put yourself in a vulnerable situation,” said DeGeyter. “We want you to enjoy yourselves, but just be smart about it.”

Some students said they feel safe on campus during their late night ventures.

“I felt safe coming at night. There were officers out there that checked up on us and were totally cool,” said Ritsema.

Senior Zach Swartz also plays at night, and is also confident with his security. “I have military and long standing martial arts training. So usually people come out to play because I am with them,” said Swartz.

Students are asked to call the authorities in case of emergency or dial 4239 from any campus phone or 520-4239 from any other phone for non-emergency related assistance.

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