SGA and UPD meet to address campus security following recent crime

Staff Writer

St. Edwards University Police Department and Facilities Departments are working with the Student Government Association to find out what the students consider unsafe areas to prevent crimes like the armed robbery on Oct. 14.

“We want things to be convenient, we want things to be enjoyable, but we also want things to be safe,” said UPD Capt. Dan Beck.

UPD, the Facilities Department and SGA are working to remove vegetation that blocks lighting on campus. They are also updating the lighting  and  replacing insufficient lights in dark spots and areas of campus that are difficult to supervise.

According to Beck, on Oct. 21 “SGA went on a walk about campus with Mike Peterson, director of facilities, and our evening shift Sgt. Nick Delgado and looked at lighting.”

Vice President of SGA Michael Cimino was on that walk, along with other members of SGA.  He has been gathering student opinion to put into a bill that will prioritize the areas that they believe need to be improved.

The areas around the Alumni Gym, the track around the Soccer Field and the walk to East Hall are of the greatest concern to the students, according to Cimino.

Peterson sent out a report of their findings, categorizing the areas marked for attention as overgrown vegetation, lights to be repaired or automated and new lighting to be installed.

The back entrance of the Alumni Gym, where the mugging occurred, has always been locked to students.  “No one except for faculty are allowed to use it,” sophomore basketball player Peri Ewin said.  

“Between study hall, practice, training room and extra rehab, I spend about five hours here per day.”

 Despite this, she and her teammate Maddie Wheeler, a senior, said they feel safe walking around campus.

“They have police officers out whenever we come to practice,” Wheeler said.

Cimino found that the track is one of the areas most concerning to the students.  There, the lighting in place is fine, but overgrown trees that block the light need to be removed.

The walk down the hill to East Hall has been slated for improvement after a student had her bag stolen there last spring.  To prevent further problems, Cimino has proposed that they clear some branches and add some new walkway lights.

“I’ve given the report to facilities, and facilities decides how they budget the problem, because it’s a lot of money to implement the lighting,” Cimino said.

The goal of the SGA bill is to increase lighting on the three campus areas above, a separate facet of the ongoing security upgrade are high-tech and high-price cameras.

“The cameras would come from a different angle, with much more UPD support, since that would be even more expensive than lighting,” Cimino said.

UPD supports the idea of cameras because they can provide both evidence and a deterrent from committing crimes, according to Beck.  He wants to add more cameras in the parking garage to the school’s existing 90 cameras if necessary. 

“Prior to the event there was no reason to expect something like that to happen, but it has.  It’s caused a lot of changes,” said Beck.

While this sort of crime would be more of a commonplace in other areas of Austin, “this is just not the part of town where you get a lot of crimes against persons,” Beck said.

Beck has been working at St. Edwards long enough to remember when he knew the name of every member of the St. Edwards faculty.

“I’ve been here 24 years, we have never had an armed robbery on this campus.  That was the first one,” Beck said.  “I hope this is a one time, flash in the pan type of incident.”