Students face growing dangers on the Drag

Classes at the University of Texas begin in just a few weeks.

However, some students and parents remain concerned about the safety of west campus and a popular area on Guadalupe Street known as the Drag.

Nathan Simmons was out and about on Guadalupe Street Sunday afternoon when he noticed a sticker covering a parking sign.

"There was a Nazi sticker on one of the signs and I don't believe that has any place in our city," Simmons said.

When Simmons looked closer he realized what the graffiti said.

"Never relax around blacks.  I mean it really makes me mad to see that stuff in our city," he said.

Simmons along with another good Samaritan Sam Henderson took matters into their own hands.

"So I started scratching if off with him trying to help him, basically he was just upset about the whole thing ‘how can somebody do this?’ It's a surprise, seeing this near a university and seeing something like that," Henderson said.

Vice President of Safehorns Joell McNew who is an advocate for student safety on and off UT campus said she isn't surprised to hear about the raciest graffiti on the streets.

As student safety becomes a growing concern and students head back to school McNew said she is worried about the dangers some students could find themselves in.

"But what we've seen in the last couple years is an increase in criminal transients, people who are more aggressive," McNew said.  "To the point where they were physically grabbing students taking them to the ATM and telling them to take out money and one saying he would kill a student."

As McNew walked down the stretch of the drag she pointed out problems she said she’s working on. 

"We’ve seen an increase in graffiti, (lack of) lighting for students as you can see.  We don’t' have high HALO (High Activity Location Observation) cameras and we don't have cameras in place, so if there is a crime committed we have no video of it happening," McNew said.

In order for things to improve McNew encourages students to step up and play a part in their safety.

"The key to all of it though is that you got to report and that you have to be engaged in your community," McNew said.

She also said the city of Austin along with Austin Energy will be conducting a lighting assessment of west campus and on areas of the drag later this month.

“We hope to have the lighting resolved by the end of August,” she said.

On Monday McNew will be teaming up with another local non-profit called Ending Community Homelessness Coalition where they will be addressing their concerns at City Hall from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.