Safehorns creates petition for more safety measures at UT Austin

UT Austin parents and students are putting pressure on the Austin City Council to do what they said they would.

Julianne Mallari has been enjoying her first semester at UT Austin, but there is one thing that troubles her as she walks West Campus sometimes. "Sometimes it's really not well lit here," she said.

The freshman is concerned about her safety, especially at night. "I do try and walk home quickly. Adding lighting is probably the biggest thing. We do have Sure Walk here but it's always busy so if we could have more programs like that that'll be good," said Mallari.

It turns out lighting has been a common complaint among students. In fact, it was studied a few years ago.

"The lighting study, that was done back in 2017 and then we had the Resolution 184 from 2019 and we have not seen much movement," said Joell McNew, board president of Safe Horns.

McNew came to the Austin City Council meeting to present a petition that will urge the city to take action on promises made years ago. So far the petition has 5,500 signatures and counting.

"It was something we wanted to do, to bring back attention to previous items we've been dealing with in the past," said McNew.

The petition calls on the city to take action on what was in the resolution passed in 2019. It includes improved street lighting, more emergency call boxes, HALO cameras and better campus communication.

"The comments are the same," said McNew.

The board president said she receives multiple complaints from students and parents about the same issues.

"There have been habitual masturbating situations where they are blocking their entrance to their housing, there are people walking through the street to navigate since the sidewalk is blocked with people living there," said McNew. 

McNew said Proposition B is not being enforced very well around West Campus, and ultimately, the homeless are not getting the help they need.

Council Member Kathie Tovo provided an update, mentioning the fact that Austin Energy is working on the West Campus lighting project. FOX 7 Austin checked in with Austin Energy and found out they have upgraded 209 streetlights, switching them to LED, but they still have 90 left to replace.

McNew was happy to hear the news of lighting updates, but still emphasized the other parts of the resolution that council has not acted on. She is hoping the city can take action in honor of Haruka Weiser, and all students at UT.

"Our nonprofit started after the brutal rape and murder of Haruka Weiser in 2016 and we've been at this every single day," said McNew.

You can read the petition here.

SafeHorns asks City of Austin for more lighting around West Campus
Blue light call box added to West Campus
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