Student safety organization aims to improve campus safety through door locks, city involvement

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Photo Credit: Dan Martinez | Daily Texan Staff

By attending campus safety events and meeting with student safety activists, student safety organization Horns for Safety has been working to increase student interest in their goals.

Community outreach officer James Richardson said the safety organization formed in September to unite students interested in campus safety. He said the organization has focused on increasing student membership to work on larger projects, such as presenting a West Campus safety budget to Austin City Council next summer. 

“Our number one focus has been on engagement and trying to spread the news that we’re doing this, and this is a beneficial thing that people should be involved in,” said Richardson, a second-year law student. “We attended the campus National Night Out (as a) tabler to discuss our organization. We met with the young woman that started the (West Campus lighting petition).”

Richardson said the organization also met with two of the five students who created a brass knuckles-shaped safety multitool called Pocket Punch. Margy McCallum, one of Pocket Punch’s creators, said her team would like to present the tool at a Horns for Safety meeting to help advertise it. The device should be in production in early 2020, she said.

“We have the mission of campus safety for all because we all know what it feels like to walk home alone at night on and off campus and just not feel as safe,” marketing senior McCallum said.

Vice president Kacey Vandervort said Horns for Safety also created a survey to send to all professors, asking whether their classroom doors locked easily in case of an emergency, such as an active shooter situation. 

“The lock survey (is) important to accomplish because it means better safety on campus,” Vandervort said. “A few of my classrooms don’t lock or require a key to lock them … so it does personally affect my safety and makes me a little nervous going to classes at times.” 

With the group fighting to have even one person attend their meetings at first, retaining members has been difficult, Richardson said. But now, Richardson said 10 to 20 people have been at meetings, and they are still working on retaining members.

“We try to do some kind of engagement activity via campus safety or an (Emergency Medical Services) demonstration or a meeting to have some kind of tangible takeaway for people that come,” Richardson said. “We also like to have round-table discussions about, ‘How can we … not only keep ourselves safer but try to affect the powers that be to help us in that manner?’”

Advertising junior Kristen Copado-Johnston said the safety initiatives Horns for Safety is advocating for are worthwhile. She said she would like to see locks on every door and better lighting in West Campus.  

“I do think about (my safety) every day, especially when I’m walking home at night,” Copado-Johnston said. “In the instance where there is someone going around (with a knife) or an active shooter, that’s something I worry about a lot. Taking precautions (such as locking doors) to prevent that or help if that does happen (is important).”