Students and faculty question whether increased safety protocol are still in place during summer

Anusha Lalani

The familiar buzz of students talking and their feet shuffling to class is absent on campus during summer months, causing some students and faculty to feel uncomfortable while on campus.

While most of UT’s population is away on summer vacation, some stay to work or go to summer school. The empty buildings and campus make some wish there were more people or more safety precautions taken during summer.

Undeclared junior Reethika Thakkalapally, who is taking summer classes, said the vacant campus makes her not want to be on campus at all.

“It doesn’t feel like actually going to school since you don’t see a lot of people on campus,” Thakkalapally said. “And I don’t like that I don’t see a lot of familiar faces around.”

UT President Gregory Fenves sent a statement to all students yesterday updating them about the safety protocol put in place and the efforts the University is taking to ensure the safety of its students and faculty.

“As the university continues to review safety and security issues, we are implementing many of the suggestions you gave us from the safety survey,” Fenves said. “Based on that feedback, we have strengthened the SURE Walk program, added more nighttime transportation choices for students and increased police patrols. These are just a few of the efforts.”

Fenves also mentioned the University’s use of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and that it will be reviewing the security measures taken on campus.

However some students don’t feel the presence of “increased police patrols.”

Journalism senior Romina Leon, who is taking summer classes, said she doesn’t notice too many UTPD officers patrolling the main campus, except for in some areas.

“Honestly, I haven't seen any UTPD behind the business school,” Leon said. “I mostly see them around 24th and University and 21st and Whitis, and all over the communication school buildings. It wouldn't hurt if a UTPD officer would walk around the construction area around Speedway.”

UTPD Chief David Carter outlined the protocol UTPD carries out when an emergency occurs, such as the homicide last semester. Carter explained in an email how UTPD received additional help from DPS troopers and other UT Institution Police Departments. Carter also said the number of officers patrolling campus increased after the homicide.

After graduation, UTPD officers patrolled campus with “adjusted staffing hours so that we had a greater presence during evening and night time hours,” Carter wrote. Austin Police Department and DPS also continue to monitor areas around campus.

Diana Dawson, program director for Moody College of Communication, said she doesn’t feel frightened by the emptiness of the campus, but she tries to be more attentive to her surroundings because she stays on campus later than most faculty and arrives earlier.

“Because most of the faculty’s gone, there might not be anyone on the floor so that gets a little bit creepy,” Dawson said. “I usually keep my door open so I can wave to people but during off-times, I might close it and keep it locked while I’m working. Just being aware in the summertime that there are fewer people so you have to be a little bit more vigilant.”