News

Campus safety in spotlight after UT Austin killing
Author: Amy Frazier, KOIN
Posted: April 12, 2016

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The killing of Haruka Weiser on the campus of the University of Texas Austin sent shockwaves through colleges across the country.

The 18-year-old from Portland was a freshman attending UT Austin on a full-ride dance scholarship when she was assaulted and killed sometime around late Sunday night as she walked home from class.

A 17-year-old, Meechaiel Criner, was arrested Friday and charged with her murder.

The arrest affidavit revealed Weiser called her roommate around 9:30 p.m. Sunday night and said she was “on the way” home after class.

UT Austin campus police have since increased patrols significantly and are doing a complete review of campus security. They’ve also asked students to take extra precautions.

On the PSU Campus

In Portland, PSU freshmen roommates Ashley Knecht and Taylor Rees told KOIN 6 News they feel safe walking on campus, but they do take precautions.

“I have pepper spray on my key chains and usually I have a buddy I find in class, and usually Ashley is with me,” Rees told KOIN 6 News.

She said she schedules her winter term classes so she doesn’t have to walk at night. “That’s something I wouldn’t want to be in that kind of situation.”

“There’s, like, call boxes and you can call campus security and they’ll escort you back,“ Knecht said.

Willy Halliburton, who recently joined the PSU Campus Public Safety Office after 25 years with the PPB, said campus officers respond immediately when a student calls for an escort.

There does not have to be a threat for a student to request a safety escort, he said.

“That’s part of our duties. All they have to do, there’s blue phones spread out throughout the campus, they can pick one of those up and it directly dials our dispatch center here,” Halliburton told KOIN 6 News.

Officers will respond and escort a student from where they are to where they’re going.

“If there’s an officer available, they will be there immediately,” he said. “It’s our duty to make sure our students and faculty and staff on this campus feel safe.”

He said if someone feels threatened or uncomfortable they should get loud and draw attention.

“Let them know you know they’re behind you, that you notice them. Get loud, summon other people over,” he said.

Another PSU freshman, Chloe Boudreau, said the killing of Haruka Weiser makes her think more about being aware of her surroundings.

“I think that it’s eye opening because she’s a girl just like any of us going to school and it could happen to any of us,” Boudreau told KOIN 6 News.

She also has pepper spray on her key chain and she always tries to walk with a friend.

“I never want to walk around at night by myself,” she said. “My parents don’t ever want me to walk around by myself.”

Incidents around the country are reviewed by PSU Campus Public Safety as part of an ongoing effort to create the safest environment.