AUSTIN (KXAN) — In August, the University of Texas announced a new pilot program to improve campus safety and keep the area clean.
The West Campus Ambassadors program includes two teams of ambassadors: safety ambassadors and cleaning ambassadors who operate on foot, bicycle and by truck.
Since the program started, both safety and cleaning ambassadors have been busy.
In just over two months, the safety ambassadors have escorted more than 130 residents home. Students who feel unsafe or want someone to walk with can request an ambassador.
Cleaning ambassadors patrol West Campus as well, looking for any trash or graffiti. So far they have hauled away more than 5,000 pounds of trash and removed about 2,600 pieces of graffiti.
Their job goes beyond just clean up and safety though, ambassadors are there to help with directions and greet people with a smile.
Ambassadors have helped give out directions about 2,300 times.
The safety ambassadors will be in West Campus between 3:30 p.m. and 3 a.m. Their job will be sharing safety resources and tips, escorting residents to their destinations in the late evening, monitoring the region for unwanted activity, discouraging panhandling, working with local law enforcement to address other problematic situations, and serving as another set of eyes in the area.
The cleaning ambassadors will provide daily cleaning services, including litter and trash collection, weed abatement, graffiti and sticker removal, pressure washing and cleaning benches. In addition, the cleaning ambassadors will provide hospitality functions such as greeting visitors, providing directions and homeless outreach and de-escalation.
In the past, students and businesses have raised concerns about homeless camps in West campus.
People using drugs and begging for money on the Drag was a common sight for students.
KXAN viewers have also reached out about a homeless encampment near the University of Texas CO-OP. Drug paraphernalia and human feces were spotted by KXAN crews when we stopped by over the summer.