Solemn wake of passing calls for awareness

Khadija Saifullah

“Everything is bigger in Texas” definitely holds true at the state’s flagship university — as one of the largest schools in the nation, paved on 434 acres and home to more than 50,000 students. The greatest assets of the University are its faculty and students, who come from all 50 states and over 120 nations. They make the UT experience invaluable.

However, bigger doesn’t always mean safer. Exemplary theatre and dance freshman Haruka Weiser recently passed away, in tragic occurrence that the police are, sadly, investigating as a homicide. Her loss and discovery in Waller Creek on campus have given many students second thoughts about campus security.

Haruka was only a freshman. Within a student’s first year, UT’s large campus can be daunting. The dimly-lit and sparsely populated route she took along the Waller Creek Trail is very isolated at night.

My freshman year, I wasn’t the type of person to go out of my way to find someone to walk home with at night from campus. Weiser’s tragic death hits home, and reminds us students that safety is extremely important, yet often overlooked when we’re so busy with work, friends and exams.

Students should be aware of the safety resources currently available to their campus — too many are unaware of the free services that are funded by their tuition money. SURE Walk is a student-run volunteer group that provides walks to and from campus to UT faculty and students and is available from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m., Monday through Thursday.

“We want to prevent anything like that from ever happening again,” director of SURE Walk Krishan Sachdev said about Weiser’s death.

In an effort to make campus more secure, campus should be better illuminated at night. This would make students feel a lot safer while making them more aware of their surroundings.

Even the walk from the PCL to West Campus is not as well lit as it should be, and can be unnerving during late hours of the night. Popular routes like these demand special attention to ensure student safety in this solemn time.
Furthermore, incoming students should be trained on the importance of campus safety as much as awareness of alcohol, drugs and healthy relationships. The University requires all incoming students to complete Think About It, a series of modules that educates students on the aforementioned issues, so including a section on campus safety would be simple.

Along with University efforts, large student organizations should take an initiative in forming a group messaging system that includes all of its members. Students could then find others to safely walk home with.
The size of UT and its student population are beneficial to students in countless ways, so let’s make safety another asset. As this is a difficult time for our campus community, it is imperative for students to help each other out and be there for one another in times of need.

Saifullah is a neuroscience sophomore from Dallas. Follow her on Twitter @coolstorysunao.