A year after the murder of a first-year theater and dance student on the University of Texas campus, students and staff plan to hold a memorial service for the slain victim.
On April 5, 2016, Haruka Weiser's body was found in Waller Creek on campus just west of the Alumni Center. Investigators said she was headed home from dance practice when she was attacked. An autopsy report determined she was sexually assaulted and strangled.
Three days after her body was found, Meechaiel Criner, 18, was arrested in connection to her death, charged with capital murder.
Tuesday, in a letter to students, University President Greg Fenves wrote, "I know her name still brings back a flood of memories for every member of our community. When hearing it, we are instantly reminded of our loss and also the legacy left behind."
After Weiser's death, Fenves said the University took steps to make the university a safer campus.
- Upgrades to campus lighting systems, pathways and security cameras.
- Increased availability of nighttime transportation and emergency call boxes on and off campus.
- Increased police presence on campus.
- Improved collaboration between university and local police.
- Community outreach and security awareness campaigns to reduce risk for students, faculty and staff.
On April 3 at 8 p.m., the UT government will host a memorial service in Weiser's honor in the Main Hall.
All staff and students are encouraged to attend.
Read the letter from University President Greg Fenves in full below:
Dear UT Community,
As the first anniversary approaches of the murder of Haruka Weiser on our campus, I know her name still brings back a flood of memories for every member of our community. When hearing it, we are instantly reminded of our loss and also the legacy left behind.
Haruka was a performance arts major and a dancer. Her friends looked up to her. Haruka’s professors respected her. She was committed to her studies, but she also made time for everyone around her. She was hard-working, passionate and humble. Haruka was a Longhorn.
The loss that Haruka’s family experienced last year was unthinkable. Their strength, courage and grace in the face of such tragedy steadied everyone and set an example for how we could move forward, together.
On April 3 at 8 p.m., UT Student Government will host a memorial ceremony in Haruka’s honor on the Main Mall. I strongly encourage all members of our community to attend so we can continue the healing process that began a year ago.
Since April of 2016, the university has reviewed security vulnerabilities at UT and improved safety. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) completed a comprehensive security assessment of the main campus and the J.J. Pickle Research Campus. UT’s Executive Compliance Committee evaluated the DPS’s findings and approved a long-term strategy that we have begun implementing to make our campus safer and more secure.
These efforts include:
Upgrades to campus lighting systems, pathways and security cameras.
Increased availability of nighttime transportation and emergency call boxes on and off campus.
Increased police presence on campus.
Improved collaboration between university and local police.
Community outreach and security awareness campaigns to reduce risk for students, faculty and staff.
The security and safety strategy, which we will continue to implement, can be read here.
Haruka Weiser will never be forgotten. Her memory is a bright light that will guide us for years to come. She will always inspire us. Haruka is a Longhorn forever.
President Gregory L. Fenves