AUSTIN, Texas - SafeHorns is once again asking the City of Austin for more lighting around West Campus near UT Austin. The organization says most of the areas lack proper street lighting forcing students to walk in the dark. The city says they are working on it.
"It's unacceptable. We, ourselves, are sick of saying it. Are they waiting for another student to be severely injured or murdered?" said Joell McNew, Board President of SafeHorns
SafeHorns is an organization committed to providing the safest environment possible for UT and the areas surrounding it. That includes the lighting in West Campus which the organization has deemed "unsafe".
"This is a community that was designed to be in close proximity for students to navigate to and from campus, and the lighting does not meet standard and we've been saying it for years," said McNew.
SafeHorns says a majority of the areas have no lighting forcing students to walk in the dark. "If you're walking home alone, which many students do late at night, it's very scary," said McNew.
SafeHorns is reporting that since 2019, the area surrounding UT has seen a 38% increase in aggravated assaults, an 87% increase in burglaries, and a 124% increase in auto thefts.
"We have our crime issues, but we also have a feeling of being unsafe, and when you feel unsafe, then that means there's something that needs to be done to create that feeling of being safe," said McNew.
Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo represents West Campus and says she's all for better lighting, but it is not completely up to her.
"We know that lighting is a crime deterrent, and we want people to feel as safe as possible. I've reached out multiple times to Austin Energy and haven't gotten any indication of how expedited that timeframe will be," said Tovo.
At the Austin Energy Utility Oversight Committee meeting Tuesday, Austin Energy revealed to the city council that they have upgraded 250 lights in the West Campus area to LED lights and plan to install 288 additional lights in the area.
There is no set time frame as to when those lights will go up. Council Member Tovo pushed Austin Energy to figure that out as soon as possible.
SafeHorns has created a petition to improve public safety and street lighting in West Campus.