In response to concerns from parents and students about the rising rate of crime around campus, the University of Minnesota announced several measures to improve safety.
The Minnesota State Patrol has formed a partnership to combat crime and the Minneapolis Police Department has reestablished its relationship after severed ties following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
Some applaud the efforts to make campus safer. Others, including students, believe the university should be transparent and include students in its decision-making about campus safety.
Public safety partnerships and efforts
In recent years, crime around the university has increased along with rising crime in the area. According to Minneapolis crime data, seven victims of gunshot wounds were reported in Marcy-Holmes, which includes Dinkytown, this summer.
The number of assaults on the university has more than tripled to 37 this year, compared with 10 in 2021. Larceny/thefts are up more than 55% from last year.
Students returned to the university to attend classes and Gov. Governor Tim Walz and Joan Gabel, the University President, announced earlier this month that extra State Patrol officers would be stationed around the university. Metro Transit officers and the Hennepin County Sheriff will be assisting the school to increase the number of officers at the campus light rail stations.
The university will hire more officers, increase staffing from 51 to its authorized size of 71, and improve lighting around campus. This is in addition to the July formation of a safety advisory panel that included parents, students, and police officers.
“We all share the common goal to ensure safety and health for every member of our University community,” Gabel stated in a statement to MinnPost. “We have continued to put significant resources and attention into safety, especially this summer as we prepare for our fall semester span>
The university announced late last month that it will begin an “evaluative and phased” restoration of its relationship to the Minneapolis Police Department. This was after severed ties with them shortly after George Floyd’s murder in 2020.
Gabel stated in the announcement that span style=”font weight: 400 Law enforcement within the City of Minneapolis should reflect public safety expectations for all members of the community.” We are encouraged by the City’s efforts to meet this expectation and look forward .”
Student leaders wrote to the university administration demanding that all ties with MPD be severed one day after Floyd died under the oath of Derek Chauvin (then-Minneapolis police officer). Gabel declared the next day that the university would no more contract with MPD to provide extra support for large events such as football games, and that campus police would cease using MPD for specialized services such as K9 bomb detection.
Many organizations, including Minneapolis Public Schools’ Park Board and Minneapolis Public Schools, disassociated themselves from Floyd’s murder by an officer of the MPD. The Department of Justice and Minnesota Department of Human Rights began investigations into Floyd’s murder. This led to a report that revealed the police department engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination in their policing.
The university has continued to maintain its public safety partnership with MPD, which includes investigations, patrols, and emergency response.
What parents and students think
Parents of University of Minnesota students have been encouraged to become involved in the fight against campus crime. Parents created a Facebook group, “U of MN parents- campus security and call to actions topics”, last year to express concerns about campus crime.
Edina resident Erin Brumm said her son, a junior at the university is a student there. She and a few parents were concerned about their kids on campus because of increasing crime. They felt that their concerns weren’t being taken seriously.
They created the Campus Safety Coalition, which is a non-profit that parents hope will allow them to have input on how university safety is managed. This has already included a billboard campaign of appreciation for police officers and a spot to nominate one of their members to the school’s safety advisory board.
A post shared by Campus Safety Coalition (@campussafetycoalition)
Brumm stated that she feels the university’s ending of its contract with MPD after two years “did a lot damage” to the police morale. However, she said that she is glad that more officers will be on campus to keep it safer for her children.
She said that boots are needed on the ground because of her font-weight: 400 “We need .”
Mina Zhang is the communications director of the university’s undergraduate student governments. She said that the university had been inconsistent with its involvement with students regarding decision-making in public safety.
She stated that the university had responded quickly to the student leaders’ letters following Floyd’s death, but didn’t follow up with another letter requesting several changes to campus policing.
Zhang stated that the university administration didn’t consult students about the partnership with State Patrol and the reinstatement of its previous relationship with MPD, before presenting them to their student bodies.
She said that the university should be more transparent in its decision making process and include students and their families. She suggested that there should be more safety panels for students to provide input before any decision is made. Also, it should allow for space for opposing views, which she stated aren’t often part of the conversation.
She stated that span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>” Ultimately, it is us students who should be able to decide how safety will be conducted on campus.” “I believe every student at this university should have a say in how their safety is done .”
Gabel addressed some of these concerns during a forum on university safety attended by city and university officials as well as MPD and UMPD officers. Gabel stated that part of the school’s public safety plan was to improve how people are kept informed. This will mean expanding the campus SAFE-U emergency notification system’s boundaries to include Dinkytown and hiring safety-specific communications personnel.
Gabel encouraged parents, students, teachers, and staff to voice their concerns while the university implemented its public safety plan.
She said that span style=”font weight: 400 ;”>” We want to hear from people.” “We all want safety in every sense of the word and we want you know that this is 100% what we are working towards .”