Tragedy struck at the University of Texas in Austin in April, 2016 when a freshman girl disappeared while walking to her dorm after a night class. She was later found dead on campus.
UT Austin is an open campus, which means the public can come onto and be around the campus at any time. Many college campuses are open campuses because the schools like to include the public in all the activities.
TJC has a lanyard policy, which requires students to wear their lanyard everywhere they go on campus. If a student gets caught without it, they will get one warning and just get a day pass but if the student gets caught anymore after that they will receive a ticket.
There isn’t much more an open campus can do for safety because the college has visitors every day. Whether it’s people checking out the school to see if they want to attend or members of the public participating in campus activities, strangers are everywhere.
“By letting people come onto the campus, it lets us to get to know our community,” said Randy Melton, Director of Campus Police and Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice. “By doing so if you see something going on that doesn’t need to be, say something to the police. Other words if you see something, say something.”
TJC also has two emergency blue phone poles, which is a phone that is used if anyone does not feel safe walking or if they need anything emergency related. These can be located by the tennis building and Ornelas dorms.
“I feel like we need at least two more emergency poles- more toward the library and by Crossroads dorms because when I’m walking by myself at night I don’t feel as safe as I should,” said Carlee Jo Childress, Nursing.
According to Chief Melton, TJC does not have any plans to put more on campus.
“We are balancing student safety with having community access every day because part of a great college experience is benefiting from tremendous amount of new experiences,” said Kim Lessner, Executive Director of Marketing, and Media Communications. “TJC was built by the community, it’s a community college. That means that TJC provides a service for the community because they had provided the college by their tax dollars so that we can build this fantastic campus and more. Activities involving the community such as the science center are very important. Yes it’s important for students to go through there but also our community. By welcoming the community they will come and get to see our students in actions and see their work.”
Melton does suggest some safety tips for everyone such as using the buddy system whenever students are traveling around campus by themselves, always be aware of your surroundings, and have your phone ready and know the TJC police emergency phone number.
As for the UT Austin case, on Friday, April 8 11:30 a.m., the Austin Police Department held a press conference announcing that Meechaiel Criner had been taken into custody and charged with first-degree felony murder. He is currently being held on $1 million bond.
TJC Campus Police Numbers