Swarms of people in orange Longhorn t-shirts filled the University on Monday as the freshman class of 2020 attended the first round of summer orientation. While anticipation and excitement could be felt throughout campus, a sense of worry was present as well.
Approximately 1,453 freshmen came to UT for the first week of orientation, said Gretchen Pierce, manager of communications for new student services. More than 8,500 incoming freshmen are expected to break the record for incoming students at UT this fall.
During orientation, students get to know the campus, speak to their advisors, plan their schedules and explore the city.
However, recent events on campus — such as the homicide of dance freshman Haruka Weiser and the passage of Senate Bill 11, more commonly known as Campus Carry, which will become effective Aug. 1 — have raised safety concerns for some incoming students.
Parents who were present on campus for their own orientation voiced dissatisfaction about the safety precautions the University takes in order to ensure the well-being of students.
“It’s always concerning to have a homicide with a campus of 40,000,” said Bruce Miller, whose daughter is enrolled at UT and whose son will be a freshman in the fall. “Personally, I’m concerned about the number of homeless the University allows to penetrate inside the University area.”
Other students reacted differently to these events. Jared Hayes, incoming undeclared freshman, said he and his family were not swayed to choose a different school because of campus carry.
“Everywhere you go, you’ll face adversity. So I guess you just have to figure out how to deal with it,” Hayes said. “There are students that will be intimidated by such things but, at the same time, there are some kids who feel safer.”
Christie Brenner, mother of an incoming freshman, said the homicide almost influenced her and her husband’s decision to let their daughter come to UT.
“We did stop and think a little bit about it,” Brenner said. “But again, she’s smart and I’m sure they’ve stomped up safety. There are threats on any campus, but overall I’m not too worried.”
Correction: Gretchen Pierce is the manager of communications for new student services, not new student affairs.