The UT Police Department has logged an average of 27 reports of trespassing on UT property per year since 2010.
In January, UTPD arrested a man for sleeping in University Hall, but UT police
did not report the incident because he was looking for a place to stay warm, said Jeff Newton, UT police chief.
If a person is transported to a local shelter, UTPD does not file a report; however, if the individual has an outstanding warrant, they are arrested, Newton said.
Instead of pressing charges, police usually send the trespasser off with a warning because the only crime committed was trespassing.
Individuals found trespassing on UT property have been cooperative and have not committed any assaults, according to Newton.
“This year, there have not been as many situations that we responded to involving homeless persons as I would have imagined since we’ve had particularly cold bursts of winter,” Newton said.
Because UT is a public institution, people can enter the buildings that are open.
To prevent people from sleeping and living on campus, Newton said to report suspicious activity and shut the doors behind when entering or leaving a building.
“If we get a report saying that someone who looks out of place is going into a less traveled area, then we will respond,” Newton said.
UT police officers may discover activity when they conduct building tours, but people in the building will notice more unusual things because they are there day in and day out.
If there are signs of someone living there, as was the case with the faculty breakroom in University Hall, Newton said UTPD will investigate.
Because the winter months bring frigid temperatures, faculty and staff have mixed feelings.
“It is sad that they do not have shelter, especially when the weather is below freezing,” said Matthew Martinez, a second-year exercise science major.
First-year biology major Jake Willet said that homeless people sleeping in buildings could be dangerous for students and faculty.
“I do not think that homeless people should be sleeping on campus, but I do not have a strong say either way,” said Kate Bryant, an associate lecturer in the department of mathematics.