Updated on August 18, 2016
Campus safety and security remains a top priority at UT. University police and the Campus Safety and Security Office continue to coordinate closely with other university departments and outside law enforcement agencies to review and implement additional measures to serve UT Austin students, employees and guests of the university.
The efforts of the Campus Safety and Security Office are already making improved services available to students, faculty members, staffers and others in the university community. The improved security is the result of the feedback we received from many in the university community who provided comments through our survey.
Here are a few noteworthy developments:
Working with the City of Austin on code enforcement in the area west of campus:
The City of Austin has increased its code enforcement efforts in the area west of Guadalupe Street. Through code enforcement, the city has worked with residents and businesses to clean alleyways and ensure the removal of trash (e.g., boxes, tables, mattresses, chairs, discarded apartment items). So far this effort has resulted in a much cleaner West Campus area. University staff members are working with the city to sustain the progress made. These improvements should increase the sense of safety for the university community, area businesses and the area’s many visitors.
Working with the City of Austin on issues surrounding the transient population:
Homelessness is a complex social problem that impacts our urban campus. Recently the City of Austin formed a new Homeless Outreach Services Team who engage homeless individuals and help them get the support they need (e.g., transportation, mental health, medical attention, etc.). This program collaborates with local social services and has successfully served many in the West Campus area.
Being homeless is not a crime, but many kinds of public conduct are illegal and should be reported to the police. In recent years the West Campus area has attracted some criminal transients engaged in aggressive behavior. UTPD continues to support the Austin Police Department in its patrols of this area in order to address any criminal conduct.
DPS and the university continue to work on this issue. The university will work with DPS and others to verify our lighting needs. The plan is to ensure that our pathways meet acceptable standards. Currently, there has been a program to replace lights that are not functioning properly. If anyone sees a light that is out, please call 512-232-2020.
Building Access and Security:
We are working to try to set more uniform hours and access points for our buildings. This is a complex issue due to the varying time demands on our facilities. We plan to have this issue worked out for the fall semester. We must secure our facilities while still providing access to the university community.
Evening Transportation Programs:
A number of changes this summer are helping students, faculty members, staff and visitors. UT staff and members of the Student Government have worked together to strengthen our SURE Walk program, which provides walking partners from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week. (For help, call 512-232-9255.) We will soon have additional transportation resources to complement SURE Walk, including a transportation app for coordinating walks. If a student, staffer or faculty member needs a van ride on campus, they should call 512-441-4441 Option 9. Parking and Transportation Services is making it easier to park close to campus at night and will provide transportation assistance to and from night parking spots. These changes complement our UT Shuttle System, which operates until 11 p.m. every day during semesters except Saturday. Longer term, we are looking at additional improvements to make the nighttime campus as safe as possible for the entire university community.
Parking Issues After Dark:
Making it easier to park close to campus at night, Parking and Transportation Services will increase its marketing of low-cost night permits for students, staff and faculty members. Longer term, we are looking at acquiring golf carts to deliver drivers to their cars in the east lots when the shuttle is not operating.
Safety Education / Safety APP
Education is key, because safety is a shared campus responsibility. We continue to offer safety tips and videos on the UTPD and Emergency Preparedness websites and via social media. Other ongoing efforts include our monthly emergency communications, our annual request to deans and department chairs to include safety discussions in their course syllabi and our twice-a-year safety discussions with assistant instructors and teaching assistants. To date, we have not found an effective safety app that we believe will adequately serve members of the campus community. We continue to seek solutions in this area.
Call Boxes / Blue Lights
Call boxes are an important part of our overall safety network. We are examining the number and location of call boxes and blue lights and also looking at other options.
Landscape Across Campus
We want our campus landscaped in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, inviting and environmentally sustainable. Bearing all that in mind, DPS and university staff are reviewing options for reducing vegetation to provide better security and visibility throughout specific areas of the campus while maintaining enough vegetation to prevent dangerous erosion. The university’s Landscape Services department recently initiated a project that focuses on removing invasive species from the Waller Creek bed (similar to the project going on in the health district) and stabilizing the banks with more sustainable, native plants. The first phase of this project is near the Winship Building.
Cameras / Video System
DPS is reviewing our campus camera and video systems.
The campus safety and security efforts currently underway will be complemented by changes recommended by the DPS’s thorough security assessment of UT Austin’s campus. UT is committed to implementing the changes DPS recommends. The DPS report is due in August.
While safety continues to be our priority, a truly safe campus is one where every member of the community works to keep it that way. If you see something, say something. Take well-lighted and well-travelled pathways. Travel with friends after dark. Finally, remove headphones and earbuds when walking, and always be aware of your surroundings.
Bob Harkins, Ed.D.
Associate Vice President
Campus Safety and Security