SFA responds to UT murder, hopes app protects students

SFA responds to UT murder, hopes app protects students
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The University of Texas murder has raised a lot of security questions for students on college campuses, including at the Stephen F. Austin State University.

However campus security said they've got new technology to keep students and staff safe.

"Most of these crimes that happen are crimes of opportunity, don't make yourself that opportunity,"  said Chief Marc Cossich, of SFA's Department of Public Safety.

The murder of Haruka Weiser, a UT freshman, has a lot of parents calling in to make sure their child is protected and remain safe.

"My dad is the one that called me and told me about what happened at UT," said Jessica L Taylor, an SFA student.

"I don't think anything like that can happen here, but I don't know people like that," said Isaiah Pitman, an SFA freshman. "I know there are crazy people out there though."

Surveillance footage from UT helped police track down the suspect, Meechaiel Criner. SFA has more than 800 cameras on their campus to make sure if any wrongdoing happens, it's captured.

However some students feel that's not enough.

"There are cameras, but you try to avoid getting hurt because cameras won't do much during that situation," said Gabriel Penaloza, an SFA sophomore said.

"Well, when I leave I'm either talking to my boyfriend, my mom, my dad, or a friend on the phone when I leave my night class," Taylor said. "I have my Taser that my dad bought for my protection."

To ensure students' safety, the university has solutions like, the Jack Alert system and a new app called Guardian.

The Guardian app allows you insert a picture and general information about yourself. If you're ever in trouble, you click on a button, and just like that the police are on their way.

"It allows us to know where you are as soon as you hit that button," Cossich said. "We don't even have to ask you, we're headed that way when that button is pressed."

"You know as a young woman leaving my night class at 8:30 p.m.. I do still feel nervous but it's just one of those things you can't really prepare for," Taylor said.

The best advice for walking through campus is to always be aware of your surroundings.

"We're very sad here at this university about what happened at UT," Cossich said. "It can happen anywhere, which is why we preach no matter where you are, always know what's around you be aware. Don't take chances when you don't have to it's not worth it."'

Campus officials said the best thing to do is practice the buddy system when traveling to and from night classes.

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