SafeHorns promotes West Campus walk-through to address lighting, safety concerns

Tehreem Shahab

Christina Bui, international relations sophomore and a resident of North Campus, said she avoids West Campus for the most part. 

“I don’t feel very safe in West Campus,” Bui said. “There aren’t that many lights, it’s really loud and rowdy … Whenever I’m walking at night, there are sidewalks that are never quite clear, there is always trash on them and construction materials.” 

To address safety concerns like these, the city of Austin is holding a walk-through of West Campus on Thursday as part of a West Campus lighting study being conducted by the Austin Transportation Department. SafeHorns, a nonprofit committed to improving campus safety, is helping promote the event to students. The City of Austin staff will present a brief introduction to the study at the University Presbyterian Church before the walk-through.

Joell McNew, vice president of SafeHorns, said this event will be an opportunity for UT students to voice any safety concerns they would like to be taken up to Mayor Steve Adler and Austin City Council this spring. 

“The most important thing that students don’t understand is that they have a powerful voice,” McNew said. “And they’re paying a lot of money to live in West Campus. There’s been this mentality of ‘Oh this is just how it is, this is just part of being a student at UT-Austin and this is an urban environment.’ That’s not true, there should be infrastructure such as basic lighting.” 

The lighting study is the result of a resolution passed by the City Council in May 2017 instructing the Austin city manager to examine pedestrian safety in West Campus. Joel Meyer, pedestrian coordinator at ATD and leader of the lighting study, said the City of Austin is looking at safety from a personal security and traffic safety perspective. 

“From a personal security standpoint we are working closely with Austin Police Department to analyze where and when crimes are occurring in West Campus,” Meyer said in an email. “From a traffic safety perspective, we are mining the Austin crash data to better understand pedestrian crash patterns. For both, we want to understand how better street lighting can improve real and perceived safety in West Campus.” 

The walk-through will allow students to identify locations that need better street lighting in order to improve pedestrian safety, Meyer said. Students who are unable to attend the walk-through are encouraged to fill out the West Campus Lighting survey and mark concerning locations on the Input Map.

The walk-through will begin tonight at 6 p.m. at the University Presbyterian Church. 

Correction: The original article said SafeHorns hosted the walk-through. It was actually hosted by the city of Austin and promoted by SafeHorns. The Texan regrets this error.