West Campus

Car burglaries in West Campus have been on the rise for the past two months, according to Austin Police Department officials. 

Between March 22 and the end of April, 47 car burglaries took place. A Campus Watch email, which UTPD sent out, notified students of the increased activity.

Although West Campus is distinct from the University, officers from the APD said they wanted students to be aware of the trend. When APD officer William Harvey notified UTPD, APD officers said a lot of the break-ins occurred because students left their cars unlocked, which increased accessibility for thieves.  

“Vehicle burglaries are typically crimes of opportunity, so to speak,” Harvey said. “If somebody walks by your car and there’s nothing in it, [the chances] of somebody wanting to break into it is pretty low.”

Officers also said students had left their belongings in their cars clearly visible to anyone walking past, UTPD Sgt. Layne Brewster said. 

Although Harvey said car burglaries are common in West Campus, he said the thieves did not take high-value items. 

“Actually this was kind of weird — there was a lot of paperwork taken in 17 of the 47 cases,” Harvey said. “There was some sort of paper work — anything from vehicle registration paperwork — and there were even some owner’s manuals taken. I’ve never heard of owner’s manuals being taken from vehicles, so that was strange.” 

When it comes to preventing thefts such as this from happening, Brewster said the solution is pretty straightforward. 

“The number one thing is to take everything out of your car — that way there is nothing for anyone to steal,” Brewster said. “The other option is to hide it, but, if you hide it, you still run the risk of someone breaking into the car.” 

While covering items up with other things or hiding them is common, Brewster said the police do not recommend it because it often will not deter a thief from trying to get into a car. 

“If the car is locked, they break a window, and then not only are you going to lose out on the items that they steal, but you’re also going to have to repair that window,” Brewster said. 

Fifteen of the 47 burglaries involved cars with their windows broken, Harvey said.

As part of an effort to help raise awareness about the issue, APD officers went around to different garages and left notes on people’s cars telling them what, if anything, inside their car would make it more likely for an individual to break in.

Although her car was not broken into, linguistics and mathematics senior Madison Lasris said she was not happy when she saw the note. 

“[I thought] that it made it really easy for thieves [because] they didn’t even have to look in cars since the police did that for them,” Lasris said. 

Officers usually find laptops or other high value items, but Harvey said he has seen thieves break into cars for as little as change in cup holders.

“Basically, it’s just a reminder for people that if we can see what’s in your car, think about who else can walk up and see what’s in your car,” Harvey said. 

I am not and have never been a UT student, but as a Texas native, I’ve always cheered the Longhorns and have great respect for our state’s flagship university. 

Now as an Uber/Lyft driver, I feel like I’m part of the University in a small, gratifying way, particularly on Thursdays as I loop between West Campus and Sixth Street all night long. 

The vast majority of students I ferry are wonderful people with great energy who enable me to vicariously recapture my younger days. However, as the night ends, there is a consistent few who disgrace UT by trying to steal Uber/Lyft rides. 

It works like this: A group jumps in your car, looks at the ride request name on your phone, a person then says that is them and urges you to head toward West Campus. 

I’ve had this happen to me once a night for the past three Thursdays. While these ride thieves have never succeeded with me, it wastes my time, it is a disrespectful attempt to steal from your fellow Longhorns and it sullies the reputation of your world-class  University.

— Paul Martinez, an Uber/Lyft driver in Austin.

Photo Credit: Iliana Storch | Daily Texan Staff

Students who live off-campus often move there in search of prices more affordable than dorm room rates — which, at the cheapest, are $1,084 a month for a shared bedroom and community bathroom. But off-campus rental rates are increasing as well.

Last year, Austin was ranked the number one fastest growing city by Forbes in 2014 for the fourth year in a row, with an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent. With the city’s increasing population, there is a shortage of rental units, causing prices to rise.

For students living off campus, rental rates are often out of their price range. In 2008, only 4 percent of rental units were deemed affordable for those making less than $20,000, according to the Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Department. 

While most college students do fall under the category of making less than $20,000 a year, the US Census Bureau takes their high earning potential into account when adjusting poverty rates of cities with large student populations. Erica Leak, the city’s housing planning and policy manager, said this does not change the shortage of affordable housing units is increasing. 

“The number of renters in Austin earning more than $75,000 annually increased by 74 percent since 2007,” Leak said. “The number of renters earning less than $25,000 annually has only grown by 1 percent over the same time period.”

Zumper.com, a startup company based in San Francisco, recently named Austin the 21st most expensive place in the country to rent, and the prices are continuing to increase. Zumper measures rental rates in every city based on median one-bedroom prices, according Devin O’Brien, the company’s head of strategic marketing.

According to Zumper, the median one-bedroom price in West Campus is $985, $1,010 in North Campus, $990 in the University neighborhood area and $1,016 in Riverside. These numbers are not representative of prices for apartments that offer multi-bedroom options.

“Median is a good way [to measure] that if there are a bunch of high-rises,” O’Brien said. “Taking the average would skew the numbers … the majority of your rental data out there is centered around one or two bedroom.”

History senior Nicholas Samendinger found his house on W. Sixth Street in 2012. He and his two roommates pay $2,100 total a month for three bedrooms and two bathrooms. In his area, the median rate for a one-bedroom rental is $1,544, according to Zumper. 

Eighty-two percent of UT students live off campus, according to U.S. News and World Report. It’s easy for students to forget about areas other than North and West Campus, Samendinger said.

“Pricing in [West Campus] is absolutely insane,” Samendinger said. “It’s way more expensive to live near campus than it should be for students. I’ve got friends living in West Campus paying $900 per bedroom.”

Mayor Steve Adler said housing affordability is one of his chief concerns. 

“It’s an issue not only for tenants, but people who want to buy homes, renting, and hope some day to buy homes,” Adler said. “It’s an issue for people who are trying to rent places. This is an expensive city to live in, and we’re pricing people out.”

Texas Kappa Delta hosted “KD Quesadillas” during RoundUp to raise money for its local philanthropy, Austin Center for Child Protection.
Texas Kappa Delta hosted “KD Quesadillas” during RoundUp to raise money for its local philanthropy, Austin Center for Child Protection.

This year's Roundup was huge, with more than 15,000 attendees in West Campus. Twenty-five hundred of those were non-UT students who paid $10 each for wristbands, bringing in $25,000 for IFC. Sorority-hosted philanthropy events raised $30,000.  

These numbers are impressive, and the money raised will be directed toward separate philanthropies depending on the Greek organization. Yes, Roundup is a nuisance to a majority of the non-Greek population and proved troublesome to APD this year, but the event should not be so quickly discredited. Instead, emphasis should be placed on the good that will come from so many students and non-students alike contributing to charities by means of attending these parties.  

Roundup has not been a University sanctioned event since 1990, when a series of racially charged incidents led to a dissociation between the two. Roundup was primarily a recruitment event allowing newly admitted Longhorns a chance to check out Greek life on campus. IFC and UPC put an end to that in 2013 and threatened large fines if any fraternity or sorority was found to be "dirty rushing."  

So what even is Roundup anymore? It's no longer official or a recruitment event, so IFC and UPC should maintain and even intensify their focus on philanthropy. 

Bounds is an associate editor.

Austin-Travis County EMS responds to an emergency situation during a RoundUp event Saturday night.
Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Despite a recent sound ordinance in West Campus, more tickets were issued for underage drinking than for noise complaints during RoundUp last weekend.

Officers of the Public Assembly Code Enforcement (PACE) team, which works to reduce City Code violations, issued 68 tickets for minors in possession of alcohol and two tickets for violation of the City’s noise ordinance that restricts outside music to 75 decibels, according to APD Sgt. Alfred Trejo.

“In the past, we may have let noise complaints slide because we’re focusing more on underage drinking,” Trejo said.

Trejo, who represents APD on the PACE team, said the team went to approximately 12 parties in West Campus and shut down three of them.

“The parties that are getting shut down are not so much related to the noise ordinance, but that when the police are showing up, no one’s complying, or they’re overcrowding their parties,” Trejo said. “They weren’t controlling the number of the people the fire marshal originally told them they could have.”

Chemical engineering freshman Drishti Wadhwa attended RoundUp for the first time as a member of Texas Bluebonnets. After attending multiple events, Wadhwa said she had a good time but was surprised at how many drunk people she encountered.

Wadhwa said it wasn’t clear to why a party she attended was shut down. 

“I went to Zeta Psi, and it got shut down for some reason,” Wadhwa said. “I wasn’t really sure what happened, but they were like, ‘Please exit,’ so then we all just went to Whataburger.”

After attending RoundUp last year and going to multiple parties that were shut down for capacity issues, rhetoric and writing senior Sierra Vela said she decided to opt out of the festivities this year.

Vela said she lives in West Campus near three fraternity houses and tolerates the occasional weekend party but said she tried to stay out of her apartment because of the noise she knew the weekend would bring.

“RoundUp is a special time of year since the noise tends to be day and night for the entire weekend,” Vela said. “The times I was in my apartment over the weekend, I could hear one party or another. Bad country music and lots of random mass screaming during the day then rap or whatever at night.”

Besides RoundUp, Vela said she normally has issues with noise at the beginning and end of semesters.

“I will say that the frats do a pretty decent job of keeping the noise down during the week, which I appreciate,” Vela said.

In order to focus on the issue of underage drinking, Trejo said his team only issued tickets to fraternities if it received multiple 911 calls about the noise. 

“Specific to the sound ordinance, for the most part, every fraternity that had a band outside was, basically, in violation,” Trejo said. “We took the sound meter with us and measured.”

Most fraternities were issued warnings for their noise but almost all of them had outside entertainment that was over the City’s limit, Trejo said.

“There’s no way you can keep a band down to 75 decibels outside,” Trejo said. “We really didn’t see anyone making attempts to push their bands inside unless we told them to.”

Party-goers enjoy music at the Texas Fiji house on Saturday night.
Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

At the 85th annual RoundUp weekend, over 15,000 people congregated in West Campus for big-name performers, parties and crawfish boils despite facing limitations because of the city’s new sound control ordinances.

During RoundUp weekend, many UT fraternities host parties and performers at their houses. Musicians Riff Raff, Shwayze, Travis Porter and many others made appearances this year. Sororities often use the weekend to host charity events for their philanthropies. To read about the weekend's philanthropic events, click here.

Lee Lueder, Interfraternity Council president and Plan II and finance senior, said IFC sold an estimated $25,000 worth of wristbands to non-UT students for $10 each. RoundUp is free for UT students.   

Zack Fernandez, mechanical engineering senior and member of Acacia fraternity, said his fraternity had no problems with Austin’s noise ordinances, which the City implemented last fall. These ordinances place restrictions on amplified music and music played outdoors in residential areas.

“We’ve gotten all of our permits in order, and everyone’s been having a good time,” Fernandez said. “The truth is, as long as you keep it under the limits of what [Austin Police Department] tells you, … everyone can have fun.”

Lueder said he hasn’t heard any complaints about the weekend, though several parties were disbanded. 

“A lot of parties got shut down, which was disappointing, because we didn’t know what to expect with the new sound ordinances,” Lueder said. “But I think it went pretty well.”

Sullivan said some parties moved inside following sound ordinance violations. Attendance was lower at certain events because smaller indoor capacities limited the number of people that could be admitted.  

“It honestly might have been a little bit smaller because of sound ordinance stuff,” Sullivan said. “RoundUp is never going to be the same.”

Ryan Sullivan, IFC philanthropy chair and supply chain management junior, said the proceeds from the weekend will go partially to Friends and Family Community Connection, an organization that hosts food packaging events for those in need. The IFC and University Panhellenic Council will hold an event in September during which students will package meals to be shipped out to impoverished people in Haiti.

“All of us are very focused on our own personal philanthropy stuff, which I think it is great, [but] something like [this event] that brings everybody together helps us give to similar causes,” Sullivan said.

Another portion of the money raised will go to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Sullivan said. A final portion will be allocated to the fraternities themselves to fund fixed costs of their future philanthropy events.  

Fernandez said he feels philanthropy events should be the takeaway from the weekend, although the parties are the main draw for students.

“When you’re going to a RoundUp party, you’re going [because] it’s the biggest party of the year,” Fernandez said. “The other side that you have to see is all the philanthropy going on. That’s the big thing that you have to take away from this, is with all of the sorority events and food events, a lot of this is going to charity.”

Check out our slideshow of the best photos from RoundUp 2015 below.

Party-goers enjoy music at the Texas Fiji house on Saturday night.
Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

More than 15,000 people attended RoundUp 2015, a collection of parties and philanthropy events held across West Campus over the course of a single weekend. Check out our slideshow of the best pictures from the weekend, and read a full recap of RoundUp here. Warning: The slideshow may not be visible on some mobile devices.

Students wait in line to receive their wristbands for RoundUp weekend on the East Mall on Thursday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

Students from around the nation will flood West Campus for the 85th annual RoundUp event this weekend — and the Interfraternity Council is hoping all of them will be college students. This year, the Council tightened the event’s attendance policy to discourage high schoolers from trying to attend.

RoundUp is a weekend-long event hosted by the Greek community where fraternities traditionally host parties with big name performers, and sororities host food-based events to profit their philanthropies.

This year is no exception, and several parties will feature performers such as Riff Raff, Tyga, Travis Porter and Cherub.

“It’s all the big-name performers that you wouldn’t expect to come to a college party, but Tyga and all these other people are going to come,” advertising sophomore Celina Gimang said. “It will be cool just to get to see them for free, especially for girls since we don’t have to pay for the wrist bands.”

In previous years, high school students have flocked to RoundUp for a chance to experience college life, but the Interfraternity Council, which regulates the event, has increased restrictions to keep the events limited to college students.

General admission wristbands are available free to all UT students who show their student IDs. Some events require specific wristbands, and men usually have to pay to get into the weekend’s events.

This year, all non-UT students will be required to pay $10 for their wristbands, in addition to showing an official college ID. The IFC also changed its wristband
distribution system.

“Instead of having certain locations at certain times, we’re having all locations from certain hours, so we’re more spread out,” said Yuriy Dovzhansky, finance and Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies senior. “That kind of makes the lines shorter than they were last year. And the average wait time is about seven minutes, and, last year, it was a lot crazier.”

Dovzhansky, who helped coordinate wristband distribution, said the Council will cap non-UT students at 20 percent of RoundUp attendees.

Despite having to wait in line to get her wristband, geology sophomore Chloe Bell said she is excited for the big crowds and day-long events in West Campus.

“[Last year], I saw everyone walking around with their fanny packs and big tank tops — like, when else can you walk around wearing that kind of crap other than RoundUp — so I just thought might as well,” Bell said. “Everyone looked like they were having a good time last year, and then you see the pictures and you’re like, ‘Damn, should have gone.’”

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

A UT student was assaulted in West Campus early Wednesday morning, according to a UT Safety Alert email.

The assault occured at approximately 2 a.m. near 25th and Pearl Streets. The student told police the man who attacked her was dressed in dark clothing.

Austin Police officers notified the University of Texas Police Department and said the investigation is still ongoing. 

“We just wanted to make the community aware,” UTPD spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon said.

The email asks students, faculty and staff to contact APD if they have any information about the incident.

Sarah Goodfriend (left) and Suzanne Bryant celebrate their marriage at The Highland Club on Thursday evening. A public celebration centered around the couple, who obtained Texas’ first same-sex marriage license.
Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

February 20, 2015: In the first Daily Texan NewsCast of the semester Eleanor Dearman and Samantha Ketterer discuss the first same sex marriage in Texas, Student Government elections, a campus-wide blackout, the next president of UT, and a bomb threat in West Campus. Podcast mixed and edited by Dan Resler.