AUSTIN, Texas - UT Police are patrolling the area of Dean Keeton and San Jacinto after multiple reports of a man grabbing students.
Police describe the suspect as a younger-looking black male, about 5'10", no facial hair with dreadlocks.
A young woman told police a man grabbed her in a “hug-like” manner Friday. Shortly after alerting students the campus police received multiple calls and report the suspect matching the description of earlier assaults. The offense is classified as a Simple Assault because the nature of physical contact the suspect was making was not sexual.
This comes a week after a man demanding money allegedly threatened a student and took off with her debit card. According to UTPD's Clery report, violent crime has fluctuated over recent years on campus. Last year there were 15 reports of Sexual Assault, 7 of Aggravated Assault and 1 report of Robbery.
Non-profit group Safehorns has advocated for enhanced safety measures on campus. Safehorns President Joelle McNew said students want to see increased lighting, police presence and a safety infrastructure similar to the University of Southern California. USC has a program called Yellow Jackets, “security ambassadors” who patrol street corners in neighborhoods near the campus.
"The great thing about the ambassador program is it is just another set of boots on the ground that are engaging people watching out for public safety," McNew said.
Safehorns is also working on Blue Light Emergency Phone boxes stretching off campus to help ensure safety. McNew said Safehorns has been working with Austin Police in identifying places near campus where the phones will be useful.
McNew says the group has not received much support from the city. "The bottom line is the city has done nothing and that is our biggest issue, incidents keep happening, we keep hearing of criminal behavior, every single week," said McNew. "It is disturbing because what's the next step? How is it going to escalate? What will be the next call?
Both law enforcement and Safehorns are stressing the need for reporting. If you see something, say something. "If you see it as a longhorn, as an Austinite, we have to watch out for each other,” McNew said.