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The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

SafeHorns’ National Night Out Teaches Students Safety

In this episode, hear about National Night Out at UT, hosted by SafeHorns. The annual event focuses on teaching students safety — providing tips from experts to attendees and even live music.

Reported and hosted by Alex Nabors. Cover art is by Maya Kiselstein.


*event ambiance*


Alex Nabors: SafeHorns is a non-profit student and parent-run organization that advocates for improvement in safety on the UT campus and West campus areas. SafeHorns recently held their 7th annual National Night Out event in hopes of connecting the UT and Austin community together, while raising awareness for safety. 


*upbeat music* 


Alex: I talked to the founder and President of SafeHorns, Joell McNew about the organization.


Joell McNew: “SafeHorns started as a group of parents concerned about safety. And eventually one of our parents said someone’s going to be murdered because crime kept increasing. And sure enough, it did happen. 


Alex: In April of 2016, a student was murdered on UT’s campus while walking to her dorm after class.


McNew: And that was a really pivotal moment for us as parents. We said, “Are we going to sit here and keep chatting on social media and Facebook about it or are we going to do something?”


Alex: Safety is an ongoing concern to many students and parents within the UT community. McNew shed some light on how this event works to educate students on helpful safety resources such as the West Campus Ambassadors. 


McNew: There’s no pride in our community, you know, it’s covered in graffiti, we have windows that are broken and still boarded up. And there’s trash, weeds, feces, needles, you know, there’s a lot going on, and there’s no ownership of our community, which is really sad to us because that is where the majority of our students call home. And we need to revitalize that area. And that’s why the ambassadors are important to us, not only from a safety perspective but being a friendly face that can engage and escort you safely home if you need that service, but cleaning up the area and making a sustainable positive change. So they will be at our event and we’re super excited about that.


Alex: Along with the West Campus Ambassadors, other organizations and local law enforcement came to the National Night Out. Damsel in Defense and Safely Self Defense gave free defense tips to students, Longhorn EMS taught first-aid skills, and Lock Arms for Life educated students on gun safety. I spoke to Sophomore Government major Chloe Schidlowski about why these resources are important.


Chloe Schidlowski: I’m a transfer student and the first day I got here almost every single one of my female friends were like okay so where’s your pepper spray, do you have a taser yet, and I was like I’m just going to walk home from my friend’s apartment in West Campus to my apartment…it’s a ten-minute walk. But they were all like yes okay but where is your taser where is your pepper spray, and I do think there are a lot of efforts being made with the security that’s on campus now to prevent that feeling of unsafety, but it’s still so present.  


Alex: Preparing students with the proper safety precautions is an important issue. Schidlowski also told me about what she learned at the event to further prepare herself for living in West Campus. 


Schidlowski: I found out more about how Narcan works and where I can find it around campus and where to look for fentanyl and stuff like that. I brushed up on some of my first aid skills and found a place where I can take self-defense classes and I think as a five-foot woman that’s something I definitely need. 


Alex: I also spoke to Robin Henderson, the Interim Chief of Police for the Austin Police Department, on why this event is important for educating the UT community on public safety. 


Robin Henderson: “Just knowing what resources are available to students and also the community members in this area, it gives the community members an actual opportunity to meet one another and network with each other. And you never know what you might run across out here. As far as not realizing it was a community problem just from the conversations or just coming up with different ideas to address safety. And so if anything, it’s just a good way to collaborate with one another and make sure that we’re being intentional about forging those relationships to increase public safety.”  


Alex: McNew told me that SafeHorns wanted to educate people on safety at the event, but that safety can be taught in a fun way. They even had a student band perform this year, which McNew said she hoped would improve student turnout.


McNew:  “I’m a huge live music fan. So I’m a little nervous, but excited to see how adding a student band will be to the event. Music always makes everything better. 


*music from the event*


Alex: The band seemed to be a great addition to the event. A lot of people just walking by, were drawn in by the music. Then, they ended up participating in some of the activities available, like the drunk goggles course, run by Sober Center Austin. 


McNew said that while she knows parents encourage their children to be safe, it can be hard to get them to take an active role in learning about safety.


McNew: You have parents telling you, you should go to that event, you should learn about that. Are you walking with someone? Are you being safe? Are you locking your door? You know, you’re feeling all this energy and anxiety from your parents, the people that love you the most, your family members. And so to come as an adult and have a good time in your community, I think is the greatest reward for all the hard work that it is because SafeHorns are all non-paid volunteers And we’re very passionate about the work we do. As long as we can positively impact the quality of life of one student, it’s worth every second of all the work and passion behind our mission.


*upbeat music*

Alex: This episode was a production of The Daily Texan Audio Department. It was reported and produced by me, Alex Nabors. If you like this episode, make sure you subscribe to The Daily Texan on your streaming platform of choice and follow us on Twitter @texanaudio. To see more from the Texan, head on over to Thanks for listening!

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