April 22, 2019
Dear UT Community,
In recent months, I’ve been frequently asked what UT is doing to make our campus safer. It’s an important question.
I write you today to highlight a number of safety improvements that have been implemented across the Forty Acres and to keep the discussion going about how we can continue to make progress, together.
Since 2013, we have increased the number of commissioned University of Texas Police Department officers from 67 to 104. UTPD is collaborating closely with the Austin Police Department to monitor the campus and its surrounding areas as effectively as possible — day and night.
In addition, UTPD has introduced a comprehensive community policing/district officer program, making officers more visible and accessible across campus. And UTPD has hired a communications specialist dedicated to providing rapid notifications and emergency communications.
The Office of Campus Safety has significantly increased the number of video surveillance systems on campus. We have also added lighting on streets and pathways and around buildings, while also reducing vegetation near walkways for better visibility.
The university has assigned “celebrated entrances” for many buildings that are enhanced with powerful lighting, video monitoring and electronic access capabilities. At these entrances, new ID card technology now limits after-hours building access to only UT faculty members, staff members and students. The university has also designated “safety hubs” at the interior of these locations that are equipped with video cameras, emergency call boxes, AED defibrillators and hemorrhage control kits.
But it’s not just about making upgrades to safety systems. We need to provide more resources for our students and let them know that support is available in many forms — including Night Rides, a free late-night transportation partnership with Lyft, and SURE Walk, a service that provides safe walks and rides for students, led by Student Government.
In a recent survey conducted by UTPD as part of its accreditation process, more than 75% of UT community members said they felt “safe and secure on campus.” That is a very good result and one we should be proud of, even as we seek additional ways to improve safety. UTPD’s officers continue to engage in a meaningful dialogue with our community and consistently aim to provide outstanding service. They’re always learning and listening.
As we near the end of the spring semester — a time that marks the anniversary of several tragedies that devastated our university in recent years — we continue to work to make our campus safer for all Longhorns. This is a group effort, requiring the vigilance of all who call the Forty Acres home. Only together can we make UT safer. Only together can we continue to improve.
Gregory L. Fenves