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Editorial: Parking garage safety and what we can do about it

October 3, 2017

Just last week, we published an article titled “Safety in UT's parking garages” where we investigated exactly what safety issues, if any, UT students were facing when leaving their cars in parking garages.

After investigation, we found that there were a few key issues that left students vulnerable when it came
to these parking areas; this includes risks of both physical harm and theft or property damage.

In the last two years, only nine police reports have been filed at UT for theft and criminal incidents, which speaks highly of the UT Police Department; many of the reports that were filed never led anywhere because there was a lack of evidence, and no cameras caught the incident.

Cameras: that's our main concern. Each garage only has cameras outside watching the entrances and neither parking structure has cameras inside or in any stairwells. We find this alarming.

Most of the cases of theft, cases of damage to vehicles and any assault that may take place can be avoided simply by the addition of cameras inside the garages at all levels.

Cameras would also help reduce speeding in the garages, which has the potential to harm students attempting to go to or from their vehicles. However, in addition to the cameras, we feel that having a speed reader and/or a pedestrian walkway added would reduce or eliminate this risk.

This was not the only risk to physical safety we found, however. Although the stairwells have glass windows and are usually well-lit, this is not always the case, especially at night. Coupled with the glacially slow elevators, this can make for a very dangerous situation, especially for a female student in any garage at night.

In the West Ramp Parking Garage, this situation is intensified with the unofficial path leading to the back stairwells of the garage. The dirt path is well traveled by students but at the same time remains unlit, unpaved and in a very open place that can lead to dangerous situations.

However, the doors in the parking garage stairwells are our main concern and we feel pose the biggest threat. Most of the doors in the garages open inside, although on some levels doors are missing entirely.

This makes it extremely easy for someone to get pinned and unable to open the door to escape an attack.

We propose simply taking all the doors off or, if possible, make them pull in or swing both ways. This prevents anyone from being held against their will in a garage and also makes them much more handicap-accessible.

We also would like to see the addition of emergency buttons added to the stairwells. This will ensure the safety of anyone choosing to use a parking garage at night.

Finally, we would like to see additional motorcycle parking somewhere outside of garages or on the uppermost levels. This will open up spots that are taken by motorcyclists and reduce the number of parking spots being used in garages, making traffic and parking density much better.

This is not something we came up with out of the blue; these are issues that affect each of us personally at The Independent Collegian. We are all students who work late hours out of our office in Carlson Library and, in previous years, we had been known to stay until 3 a.m.

Even now that our deadlines are moved up to 11 p.m., we still wait for everyone to finish and give each other rides to our cars in the various parking garages. No one goes alone and everyone watches out for everyone else.

Would we do this if we didn’t think we had to? We want to feel secure on our campus, and this is the way to make sure all students can. It's imperative that UT invests in student safety.

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