August 31, 2016
Dear UT Community,
In the five months since our student, Haruka Weiser, was tragically murdered, many of you have shared your concerns about campus safety and asked about the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) review that I requested at that time.
Yesterday, DPS officials sent me their findings and a series of recommendations to help improve campus safety. A summary letter is available online, and my office has begun directing the implementation of the recommendations.
This has been a historically safe campus and the DPS report recognizes the university’s efforts to protect students, employees and visitors. DPS, however, also identifies potential vulnerabilities the university should rectify. These include:
- Additional public safety staffing is recommended, including more University of Texas Police Department officers and security guards who can assist with campus patrols.
- Upgrading of video surveillance systems.
- Better lighting is needed in many areas, and excessive vegetation and overgrowth should be cleared to increase visibility.
- Policies should be developed to reduce the presence of transients on the campus.
- Improved controls should be introduced to limit access to campus buildings at night by individuals who are not members of the UT community.
The DPS review also recommended that the university communicate with students and others in the UT community about awareness of their personal safety and surroundings. We have begun doing this with the launch of the “Be Safe” campaign earlier in the month. We also continue to work with city and community leaders to address issues related to homelessness in West Campus.
My office and the university’s Executive Compliance Committee, which I chair, will oversee the implementation of the DPS recommendations. I have asked the university’s chief compliance officer, Paul Liebman, to prioritize them, implement the most pressing ones immediately and coordinate with other units on campus to follow up with the other recommendations. I will provide updates to the campus community as we develop the plans.
The full DPS review includes sensitive information about specific law enforcement practices that cannot be released without compromising security of the campus.
Keeping our community safe is my first priority. I am grateful to DPS officers and the agency’s leadership for providing a thorough review and recommending improvements for our university. Implementing the DPS recommendations will improve the safety of the entire community.
Gregory L. Fenves