North Campus

In this podcast, Anthony Green and Madlin Mekelburg discuss former Apollo 12 astronaut and UT alumnus Alan Bean’s visit to campus, the auction of Charles Whitman’s sniper rifle and UT's guaranteed tuition plan enrollment falling below expectations. They are joined by crime reporter Natalie Sullivan to discuss “green roofs” on campus as well as daytime residential burglaries in West Campus and North Campus. The gang is also joined by campus reporter Elly Dearman to discuss SG resolutions against city sound ordinances and increased hours at two different campus buildings. 

During Parking and Transportation Services’ annual “Bike to UT Day” on Thursday morning, APD issued 47 tickets to cyclists heading to the University as part of a “special assignment bike initiative,” according to APD officer Will Harvey.

Harvey said APD did not purposely schedule the initiative to coincide with the event.

“I predetermined all of the dates back in January,” Harvey said. “We had no way of knowing. It just happened to fall that way.” 

APD officers wrote one of the tickets for going the wrong way on a one-way street and issued the rest for running stop signs, according to Harvey.

“We get a large number of complaints on a regular basis,” Harvey said. “If you’re out in West Campus or North Campus, it’s just getting more and more populated and congested. When that happens, complaints go up, and we felt we needed to get out and do something.” 

Harvey said the initiative began in February and focuses not only on enforcing bike safety but also on pedestrian and driving violations in the West Campus and North Campus areas.

“Thus far for this operation, from February till now, we have written a total of 175 warnings and 128 tickets to bicyclists,” Harvey said. 

Kent Kasischke, a visiting psychology student researcher, received a ticket while biking to campus this morning near the intersection of 29th Street and Speedway.

“Five or six other cops were just south of the intersection, and they were just picking off people left and right,” Kasischke said. “They were hiding behind the bridge. It was very off.”

Kasischke said although he did not disagree with the police’s decision to ticket him, he thought the officers could have been more lenient.

“Writing a ticket for running a stop sign, I totally understand,” Kasischke said. “I definitely didn’t come to a full stop. It was kind of the demeanor in which they did it: They kind of jumped up in the middle of the road and forced you to stop, otherwise you would hit them. There was no dialogue, they were just writing tickets [and] then letting people go.”

Kasischke thought police could have used the opportunity to educate bicyclists about the importance of following traffic laws.

“These police were just pulling people left and right and writing tickets and not educating anybody,” Kasischke said. “When he pulled me over, he asked me why I thought I was pulled over, and I’ve been riding a bike for years — I knew it was for going through the stop sign. But, with the girl next to me, there was no effort to explain it to her.”

Kasischke thought it was a “strange coincidence” that APD officers conducted the initiative on Bike to UT Day.

UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said campus police were not aware of the APD operation.

Three years ago in a crumbling barn behind North Campus’ Crown and Anchor Pub, psychedelic rock band Cactus Peach jammed together for the first time. After countless sweaty house party gigs and moving their practice space from a barn to a walk-in closet, and eventually to the living room of a house some of the members share, the band released their debut album April 13.

Cactus Peach consists of radio-television-film senior Zane Ruttenberg, RTF alumnus Ryan Neal, RTF junior Dylan Neal, philosophy senior Michael Bain, music recording senior Michael Frels and advertising alumnus Garrett Bircher.

With more than half of the band’s background in RTF, much of their debut album, Eat, is a reflection of what they learned in their classes. Every song on Eat is a narrative with a beginning, middle and end that is strung together to tell another story. The first track, “Eat,” is about eating a cactus peach, a psychedelic fruit that leads listeners into a mind-bending journey where they experience love, downfall, then redemption; just as a hero would in an epic.

“It’s a blend of classical narratives like ‘The Odyssey,’” Ruttenberg said.

Following the formula they learned in RTF classes where two opposing colors create a striking contrast, the band’s name is a symbolic juxtaposition of their sound: experimental and poppy, Ruttenberg described.

“We knew we wanted it to be something peach,” Ruttenberg said. One night while having a “band retreat” at Bain’s family ranch, he said the group could not stop eating peaches that had just sprouted from the branches.

The band members play multiple instruments and switch instruments with each other. For Eat, Ruttenberg alone sang and played the ukulele, drums, bass, keys and guitar. The Michael’s swap between drums and keys. To organize for the recording process, the band made a grid on a white board that listed the songs going down the left and names of instruments going across the top. Once an instrument was recorded, the box would be checked off.

“God, to just look at that little grid once all the X’s were filled off was the nicest feeling in the world,” Z said. “There were 120 X’s or something around there.”

Fitting the album’s theme of consumption, Eat includes a sheet of song recipes, detailing each member’s contribution in every track. “Down Down Down” is comprised by three tablespoons of plasma, three pounds of human bones, one cup of ivory shavings and three shots of absinthe — or Bircher’s guitar, Bain’s drumming, Frek’s keys and Ruttenberg’s guitar.

After a full day of classes, work and screen-printing more labels for their CD covers, the band held an album release party last Wednesday night at Lucky Lounge.

“The other day was great. I was setting up, tuning guitars, setting up the drums, and Michael taps me and he goes ‘Dude, we’re still doing it,’ and I go ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Dude, we’re still doing it, we’ve been doing this since we were little kids,’” Ruttenberg said.

“That’s probably the closest we’ve ever had to a reminiscence, a moment,” Bain added.

The two childhood friends have been playing music together since the fourth grade when they covered Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away” for a talent show in their music class. Bain said he didn’t know how to play the chords and Ruttenberg said he could barely play the guitar at all.

“I had the best show after that [moment] because I just could not believe we’re still doing this,” Ruttenberg said.

Although Tommy Joe Kelley, who police think could be involved in hundreds of tire slashings around Hyde Park, has been arrested, many North Campus residents are still concerned about safety.

History senior Katie Carson said she is frustrated it took so long for police to catch Kelley. While visiting her boyfriend on 41st Street last May, someone slashed her tires.

“I thought that I had just run over something,” Carson said. “I went to a tire place and they said, ‘This was done by an ice pick.’”

According to Austin Police Department, Kelley used a long, thin piece of metal sharpened to a point to puncture tires.

For a long time, Carson did not park her car by her boyfriend’s apartment.

“I still have a feeling someone is going to come and slash my tires,” Carson said.

Nursing senior Justin Savino said the tire slashings are one of the reasons he is moving out of his North Campus apartment.

“I park in an apartment parking lot on Helms [Street] and Speedway,” Savino said. “The person who we park next to [had] all four of her tires [slashed]. She went out and bought new ones and the tire slasher came back and reslashed them.”

He said seeing his neighbor’s troubles really made him concerned about his car, so he asked his landlords to install cameras so the offender could be caught. They never did.

Savino said he is not concerned about copycats.

“My personal opinion is that tire slashing is a pastime and is probably caused by one mentally deranged individual doing something stupid,” Savino said. “Once you get him and put him away and [help his] mental health, you probably eliminate the problem.”

Lindsay Taylor, a public relations and government senior, said the Austin Police Department should keep North Campus residents more informed about potential safety issues.

“North Campus is a pretty neglected part of University life in general,” Taylor said. “Even though it is so far away from campus, a ton of students live there and keeping us more aware of situations like this is a really good idea.”

Communication studies junior Thomas Nguyen, who lives in North Campus, is mostly concerned about the safety of his car rather than his own personal safety.

“In general, it is pretty quiet in North Campus,” Nguyen said. “It’s a little shady sometimes. The buildings are older than West Campus and sometimes the conditions of the street and the alleys between the buildings seem a little sketchy, but overall I feel like it’s a decently safe place.”