UT administration, APD deserve praise for response to tragedy

Walker Fountain

Our campus was rocked with the news of the senseless and tragic killing of Haruka Weiser, a theatre and dance freshman from Oregon, on April 3. Little information was forthcoming soon after the tragedy as law enforcement began a sweeping investigation and family notification was pending. But while information may have been slow, University and police officials handled the crime diplomatically, with sensitivity and speed.

The University administration, APD and UTPD deserve praise for how they handled this difficult situation — balancing the need for timely information to the public and the need for privacy and respect to the victim’s family. While there were some grumblings on social media about a lack of information, it is clear that UTPD and APD had significant leads that they were ready to pursue.

President Fenves also deserves praise for quickly requesting increased patrols on campus in the nights following the killing — which law enforcement quickly provided. And law enforcement put much of the campus unrest to ease by arresting a suspect, Meechaiel Criner. There was clearly strong communication between our administration and law enforcement — and the result was a safer campus and the arrest of a suspect.

Our contributors this week are Student Body President Kevin Helgren, who will discuss SG’s role in keeping students safe, and innovative ideas beyond SURE Walk to get students home safely that were inspired by experiences on other campuses. Jan Todd, a Professor in the Stark Center, writes about her experience in 1995 being walked home by a concerned student athlete and how that shaped her views on campus safety.

Over the next few weeks, months and years, the University will continue to remember Haruka. And there will also be a strong debate on the safety of our campus and our responsibility to each other as members of this community. This week, our forum showcases different perspectives on campus safety and how we should ensure that our friends, colleagues and community members remain safe.

Fountain is a government senior from Pelham Manor, New York. He is the Forum Editor. Follow Fountain on Twitter @wf_atx.

If you would like to pay tribute to Haruka Weiser, the Weiser family has requested that all gifts be directed to the Haruka Weiser Memorial Fund. Click here for more information.