Slain UT student Haruka Weiser remembered five years later
AUSTIN, Texas - Five years ago, a University of Texas at Austin college student was found raped and murdered on campus. Now, calls for more security since that tragic event remain as loud as ever.
A memorial of flowers and photos appeared on UT Austin's campus Monday honoring 18-year-old UT dance major Haruka Weiser who had been heading back to her dorm from dance practice when police say she was attacked and assaulted.
Her body was found in a creek on campus in April 2016 and Meechaiel Criner was arrested days later. He was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to life in prison for her murder.
"The end goal is for the university to take action for the changes we want to see," said Joell McNew, founder of SafeHorns and mother of one of Weiser's classmates.
For her, Criner's conviction is not enough. McNew founded SafeHorns after Weiser's murder and spent Monday passing out fliers informing current UT students about her death.
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She says the university needs to step up security. "We have reached out to the new pres [Jay Hartzell] after he became president, we have still not heard back from him," she said.
McNew is grateful the university has put in swipe cards but says she has asked for better lighting, more cameras, and blue light call boxes. "It's more of a PR thing, we believe they do not want to have the negative attention," she said.
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UT Austin responded Monday with a statement, saying in part, "The safety of our campus community is our highest priority." The university says it has spent $13 million to increase infrastructure security, including lighting, security cameras, and reducing vegetation. 13 new officers have also been added while partnering with APD and Texas DPS.
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Still, McNew hopes for more collaboration. "The city of Austin and university come together in that divide right there at Guadalupe. It's disappointing that there is no collaboration," she said. "There's so much crime in Austin that's impacting everyone, crime in /off-campus has become more serious."