AUSTIN, Texas - Crews set out to clean up and keep Central Austin safe in a new initiative to renew the West Campus area for students, staff and residents.
"I really do think it's good, also like people coming out of town, because UT is like a big thing you know. I think overall it gives them a better impression of the city and the university. I think it's great," says Katia Maldonado, a student at the UT West Campus
The West Campus Ambassador pilot program will include two teams made up of nearly 20 people specializing in safety and cleaning.
"Sometimes I do walk by, and I see a lot of trash, I know that there is homeless people a lot here. I know that sometimes they don't find restrooms, so they will just do it wherever they can at the moment," says Maldonado.
Cleaning ambassadors are on duty from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. providing daily cleaning services, picking up trash, sticker and graffiti removal, and weed abatement.
The cleaning crew will also greet visitors, provide directions, help with homeless outreach and provide de-escalation.
"We take a lot of pride an effort in setting up a campus that positions our students to succeed," says University of Texas at Austin President Jay Hartzell.
The program is funded through an $8 million budget provided in 2020 by the Board of Regents.
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"The boards placement and safety of our campus community is the top thing we all have to worry about their continued investment in this effort speaks to that and this is the latest evolution in that investment and something we are really excited about and something we think can make a big difference," says Hartzell.
Maldonado has been a student at the university for a year. The launch of the West Campus Ambassador pilot program feels like a safety net for crime and sanitation, for not only her, but her classmates.
"As a girl myself, I feel scared myself walking at night, so I think that it's great, there are a lot of students here. We all kind of go out at night and stuff like that. I think it's a good thing," says Maldonado.
Safety ambassadors will operate from 3:30 p.m. until 3 a.m. on foot, bicycle and by truck, escorting residents, monitoring for unwanted activity and discouraging panhandling.
"I think by far it will make us all just fell like safer. I think we will feel better going out at night, not scared," says Maldonado.