Student Government hosts ‘Safety Week’

Sara Schleede

Living in a bustling downtown area can make some UT students feel unsafe, but Student Government is trying to change that with Campus Safety Week. 

Student Government and the Office of Campus Safety have organized tabling events and panels for Oct. 1 through Oct. 4. Students can learn about campus safety services and express concerns they want the university to address.

“Student safety is literally life or death matters,” said Jason Taper, co-director of SG’s safety agency. “It’s something the entire community can work on. Student voice is needed, and the administration actively wants to help us.”

The week kicks off with “Coffee with a Cop” on Monday, which provides a chance for students to meet members of the UT Police Department and learn more about their efforts to keep campus safe. 

“I appreciate that as a sign of UTPD moving toward more of a community-based approach,” said Taper, a Plan II and government senior. “It’s important that our interactions with police be not just seeing them in positions of arrest or in caricatures on cop TV shows, and it’s equally important for them to understand what our needs are.”

Events also include Safety Resource Tabling at Gregory Gym Plaza on Wednesday and an Anti-Alcohol and Hazing sSminar at Hogg Memorial Auditorium. 

“It is not specifically for Greek organizations,” said Jimmy Johnson, assistant vice president of campus safety. “It is a campus-wide effort. We want students to feel safe in the environment that college life has to offer.” 

Wednesday will also feature a Not on My Campus meeting. Taper said conversations will specifically be centered around safety for students participating in festivities related to UT’s football game against OU. 

“That is the worst weekend for sexual assault on campus, and for alcohol abuse as well,” Taper said. “It’s the riskiest weekend for public safety.” 

Emma Hodgson, co-director of SG’s safety agency, said the agency hopes to take student feedback from the week and start new initiatives to improve safety both on campus and off campus, whether it be expanding SURE Walk or installing cameras in blue light call boxes. 

“UT does offer a lot of resources, but not a lot of people know that those resources are available to them,” said Hodgson, a history and psychology junior. “There are big gaps between what we should be doing and what we aren’t.”