Safety Resources Every College Student in Austin Should Know About

Get to know the local orgs that center community well-being

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Here’s what they don’t talk to you about at freshman orientation.

Maybe you’ll try a new drug at a co-op party that won’t do you any favors.
Perhaps you’ll need a checkup after a casual hookup, or you need to get tested before progressing a new relationship.
You’ll learn more about yourself naturally, living away from home, and it’s possible you’ll realize you’re actually trans and/or nonbinary, seeking somewhere further equipped to help you understand what that means.

The gospel truth is that there will be challenges you face that exceed the walls of a classroom. This may sound like a no-brainer, but in the midst of everything else you have to worry about, staying safe as you navigate the next four years should always be your first priority.

Get ahead of it and check out this thread on local resources available.

Harm Reduction

Texas Harm Reduction Alliance is an Austin-based organization whose goal is to end the war on drugs by offering harm reduction services, outreach, training, and advocacy. THRA is a broad resource aiming to improve the conditions of all drug-use-related activity. Check out their website or Instagram (@harmreductiontx) for more information on where their drop-ins are located, as well as their hours, as they are subject to change.

Some of the services they provide include safe-use supplies like hygiene kits, wound care kits, paraphernalia like clean syringes, bolos, stems, or other sterilized drug use instruments, as well as sterilization tools. THRA also provides fentanyl testing strips and overdose reversals like naloxone (intramuscular) and Narcan (nasal). For further care, look into their peer recovery services or opioid substitution therapy.

LifePoint, in association with Vivent Health, is formerly known as Austin Harm Reduction Coalition. They are a judgment-free harm reduction program that provides free sterile syringes and safer injection supplies along with disposal sites for used syringes.

Domestic or Sexual Violence Support

The SAFE Alliance provides support for people impacted by domestic or sexual violence, sex trafficking, or child abuse. Call if you need help, advocacy, or crisis intervention at their 24-hour SAFEline (512/267-7233), text at 737/888-7233, or chat on their website.

Sexual Health and Wellness

Kind Clinic promotes sexual health and wellness free of fear, stigma, and judgment. Book an appointment if you are seeking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) access, STI testing and treatment, HIV testing and care, and gender affirming care both virtually and in-clinic. Services are always free, with the exception of certain medication costs.

ASHwell Clinic provides empowering sexual health and wellness services with the intention of serving folks at “greatest risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases as well as those who do not seek timely medical care [i.e., people of color] … and recreational drug users in the lower income areas of Austin, Texas.”

Book an appointment if you’re seeking client-centered communication on information concerning PrEP, PEP, HIV testing and treatment, hepatitis C testing, STI testing and treatment, and gender affirming care.

Monkeypox Resources: Though local case numbers are low, so is vaccine supply, and as of Aug. 9, monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency in Austin. Austin Public Health’s website offers up-to-date information on case numbers, plus guidance on reducing your risk, symptoms to look out for, and other resources. APH also has information on COVID-19 testing and where to get a free vaccine or booster.

Support for LGBTQIA+ Youth

Out Youth services Central Texas LGBTQIA+ youth and allies in the pursuit of ensuring young people develop into successful, healthy, supported adults. Programs include trans wellness guides, BIPOC wellness guides, LGBTQIA+ job resource guides, and more.

Consult their therapist network if you’re seeking counseling, and check out their calendar to see what’s coming up as far as their events, drop-in centers, and programs go.

Extreme Weather, Natural Disasters, and Other Citywide Emergencies

As the weather vacillates in the coming months, stay alert for warming or cooling facilities/shelters set up by the city of Austin should your home lose power or water. Typically, these can be found at local rec centers or public libraries, sometimes even specific schools’ gymnasiums. You might see certain organizations boosting them, but generally the city of Austin website should be providing this information.

Do yourself a favor and sign up for the city’s emergency text alerts here.

Food Support

ATX Free Fridge Project is a mutual aid-driven community project prioritizing solidarity and not charity. To find a free fridge, mutual aid kiosk, and/or pantry near you, or to get involved yourself, check out the Linktree in their bio on Instagram (@atxfreefridge).

University of Texas-Specific Student Resources

UT Title IX Hotline and Website: Title IX support offers accommodations, support, and resources in a variety of forms to students, faculty, and staff alike. It is not confidential; however, confidential resources can be referred. To file a report or get connected with a case manager, call 512/471-0419 or email

Ways the Title IX office can help include emergency funds, short-term emergency housing accommodations, discreet absence notifications to faculty, services for food insecurity, professional clothing needs, private advocacy, and more.

Crisis Resources for UT Students: If you are in crisis, or need help finding resources that may promote you or a loved one’s health and well-being, check out the Counseling and Mental Health Center at their website or by phone at 512/471-3515. (Disclaimer: UT police could get involved if a health checkup is deemed necessary.)

Read more from The Austin Chronicle's Back to School issue.

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