AUSTIN, Texas —An estimated 41 buildings at The University of Texas at Austin main campus were found vandalized with glue and other foreign objects in the door locks early Thursday morning.
Custodial workers reported the vandalism to the UT Austin Police Department after trying to open doors to several buildings at about 5:45 a.m. Thursday (Sept. 7), according to Steven Kraal, associate vice president for plant management. He credits the prompt response of the physical plant custodial staff for allowing the University to continue normal operations and making sure that teaching, research and support staff functions could go on uninterrupted. All buildings were operational by 8 a.m.
The custodial workers found alternate ways to enter the buildings and open doors from the inside, allowing the students to start classes on schedule.
Kraal noted it appears the vandalism was done in the early morning hours shortly before the custodial crews normally begin unlocking buildings.
UT Austin President Larry R. Faulkner said, “This was a criminal act obviously aimed at keeping employees from working who wish to work and keeping students from studying who wish to study. We do not know who committed it and cannot even discern whether it was a member of the UT community. I have asked the UT Police Department to investigate carefully.”
Kraal said there is no estimate at this time as to how costly the damage will be to the University, and personnel are working to determine if other buildings also were vandalized. Most of the 41 buildings involved so far were general academic buildings such as classrooms, offices and some research areas. No residence halls or general library facilities were involved, he said. At this point, no teaching or research activities appear to have been adversely affected.
Kraal said the locked doors did not pose a safety hazard to people in the buildings because the doors could be pushed open from the inside. However, if an emergency situation had surfaced, delays could have been experienced by fire or ambulance crews expecting immediate access to the buildings.
Kraal said it might be a lengthy process in bringing the buildings back to normal operations due to the vandalism. Although the buildings are accessible during their regular business hours, which may be as late as 10 p.m. when they are normally locked, some students, faculty and staff may be inconvenienced for an extended period if they need to work later than those closing hours.
“Some locks will have to be physically removed from the doors, and we’ll have to install temporary replacement locks, for which we have no current large inventory, until the damaged locks are replaced by the physical plant after cleaning and refurbishing,” Kraal said.
The temporary lock replacement will involve considerable work to assure the interim locks can be opened by all the normal users, such as faculty, researchers, custodial and maintenance staff and security personnel, in order to do their jobs, according to Kraal.
For additional information, contact Dr. Patricia Clubb, vice president for employee and campus services, (512) 232-7744; Dr. Steven Kraal, (512) 475-6976; or Dr. Peggy Kruger, Office of Public Affairs, (512) 471-3151.