Crime rates in and around residence halls jumped by almost 50 percent last September, according to records of all UT Police Department calls in the last seven months.
According to records obtained by The Daily Texan, 23 percent of all UTPD calls for the past seven months took place at residence halls during September 2016. About 28 percent each of all theft and suspicious activity calls also happened during that month.
“It’s when we’re first moving in and still trying to get acclimated,” government freshman Scott Johnson said. “So, it’s concerning.”
October and February each have about 16 percent of all UTPD calls, while November, December and January only have about 11 percent of the total number of calls. September had the highest percentage of the calls over the last seven months.
UTPD was unavailable for comment on this story.
Business freshman Aleyiah Pena, a Brackenridge resident, said she was shocked and concerned by these numbers, especially because freshmen came in last fall as unsuspecting victims of the spike in crime shortly after their arrival.
Brackenridge also experiences the highest volume of UTPD calls with respect to the number of students there. They receive 22 calls per 100 students, while the average for all the dorms is nine calls per 100 students over the past seven months.
“I had no idea there were so many calls,” Pena said. “It’s scary living in the same hall where all this stuff happened that I didn’t really know about.”
The two dorms connected to Brackenridge — Prather and Roberts residence halls — have much lower crime rates with an average of about nine UTPD calls per 100 students. These three halls are also next door to Jester, which houses 42 percent of the residents on campus and made up 48 percent of the total UTPD calls.
Johnson said he feels part of the problem lies in Brackenridge’s absence of a front desk. At halls such as Duren, there is only one entrance for students at all times. Other dorms require students to check in themselves and guests at the front desk after midnight, but students can bypass this security check when entering through Brackenridge because its front desk is housed in Prather.
Some, but not all, residence hall entrances are monitored by cameras, a Department of Housing and Food Services representative said.
Mylon Kirksy, director of residence life at Division of Housing and Food Service, said students are reminded when they arrive in the fall and throughout the year to follow all regulations regarding guests and checking in. Kirksy said the 161 resident assistants along with the night operation front desk staffs serve to ensure safety in residence halls.
“We try to go back to the residents and encourage them to advocate for their own safety and the safety of the community by following the procedures and following the policy,” Kirksy said. “That is largely successful for us, but there are people who seek to not follow the policy.”