Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Better safe than sorry

Rose Park

UT students get to enjoy the excitement of a big city while living and learning in a relatively safe environment. With a low crime rate of 1 in 71 residents, it’s easy to settle into Austin and forget about the distant dangers we see online or hear about from our worried parents. 

However, if that one person out of 71 happens to be you or someone you know, the comfort of a low statistic quickly disappears. 

“We see it all the time with students … they’ll have their face in their phone,” said Officer John Tesauro, a UTPD detective. “They’ll have earbuds in both ears, so they can’t hear what’s going on around them.”

Experts agree that you must take responsibility for your own safety. Tuning into your surroundings and intentionally practicing crime prevention could be the difference between a normal night and a life-threatening situation. 

“I’m always seeing colleges in the news, like the stuff that was happening in West Campus a few weeks ago, like with the stabbing outside of Rambler,” said classical language freshman Brooklyn Wickerscham.

Situational awareness is the essential habit of understanding what is going on around you by observing your surroundings, identifying potential threats and staying alert.

“People need to be aware of their surroundings and minimize distractions,” Tesauro said. “A lot of times it comes down to (situations like) when someone put their phone down, walked away from it, and it was stolen.”

Situational awareness is key to identifying unsafe environments before you are in them. Tesauro pointed out that if you pay attention to your surroundings, you’re more likely to avoid sticky situations. 

“I’m always just really aware of who’s walking near me, and if it looks like they’re doing something, just being aware of that,” Wickerscham said. “I keep my head on an actual swivel, going left to right to check behind me, around me.”

Taking steps to improve personal safety also involves carrying self-defense tools and being prepared to use them in an emergency.

“Pepper spray is great,” Tesauro said. “If you buy pepper spray, figure out how to use it before you need to use it. We have found suspects because we knew we were looking for someone who got pepper sprayed, and it’s pretty obvious when they’re walking down the street and they’re crying.”

Many students own pepper spray, and as Tesauro described, it can give you time to escape a bad situation. However, pepper spray won’t help if it’s at the bottom of your backpack. Make sure your self-defense device is easily accessible, and remember that it’s better to be ready to use it and never have to than to face a dangerous situation with no access to your self-defense tools. 

Additionally, students should try to walk with a buddy at night, make sure their friends get home safe and speak up if they see something.

“In a perfect world, people will be able to find a friend to walk with them all the time,” Tesauro said. “Because we always recommend that — safety in numbers. Even us (police officers) if we’re walking around West Campus at night, we at the very least tell someone we’re out there, or have someone else with us.” 

It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of college life and forget about your safety and well-being. By taking the initiative for your personal safety, you can protect yourself and your friends from becoming a cautionary tale for others. 

Jackson is a Plan II and journalism sophomore from Boerne, Texas.

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