After sex assault on West Campus, city pushing for change

Nearly 25,000 students live in West Campus, and yet there's an overwhelming concern about the lack of lighting to make them feel safe.

One of, if not the most, densely populated neighborhoods in Austin is West Campus, just outside the University of Texas.

Nearly 25,000 students live here, and yet there’s an overwhelming concern about the lack of lighting to make them feel safe.

In March, a UT student was sexually assaulted on Guadalupe. She told police there were multiple attackers and she did not recognize them. Police still haven’t caught the men responsible.

After that attack, Joell McNew with the non-profit organization SafeHorns surveyed students about their biggest safety concerns.

McNew tells KVUE that lighting was at the top of the list. Students reported that they didn’t always feel safe walking home at night.

"They're working on campus late, so they're going home at times alone and it's dark,” she said.

She brought her concerns to several city council members, but McNew said she felt like they didn’t take the lighting issue seriously at first.

"It's the most densely populated area of Austin, but yet the most overlooked because we believe that the city sees them as temporary residents."

On Thursday, however, Mayor Steve Adler agreed to fix the problem during a city council meeting.

“Crime on West Campus is a real concern, and students told the mayor they were worried about walking home in the dark. Fixing the lighting situation is important, but it’s only a first step in addressing public safety on West Campus,” said the Mayor’s spokesperson, Jason Stanford.

McNew says she will continue pushing for better lighting. Once that is fixed, she hopes to work toward adding security cameras in West Campus.

Austin Energy has until August 15 to come up with a plan to improve lighting.

KVUE will continue to follow up on this issue to see if the lighting improves by the start of the fall semester.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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