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Student's disappearance spurs safety ideas

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The parents of an Indiana University student from New York missing for more than 17 months hope that some suggestions they've heard from other students for improved campus safety become reality.

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. Spierer, 20, from Greenburgh, 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," Julianne Howell, 18, 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. -- AP

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