University of Minnesota plans new security measures ahead of fall semester
New safety measures will be in place starting this fall at the University of Minnesota.
Top school officials say it’s part of a plan they’re developing this summer after addressing the U of M Board of Regents this week.
These safety steps are for both on and off campus, and university officials believe that something needs to be done.
University of Minnesota Interim President Jeff Ettinger says the university is continuing to pay overtime through the fall for six university police officers to help patrol Dinkytown.
“This summer, we are developing plans to ensure our community feels safe on campus and in the surrounding areas when they return this fall,” Ettinger said.
When it comes to recruiting more officers, the university is developing a new police pathway program.
“This new certificate program is targeted toward students interested in law enforcement training and will be offered systemwide,” Myron Frans, the university’s senior vice president for finance and operations, said.
Just last month, university police reported a 45% increase in violent crime surrounding the Twin Cities campus since 2019.
“I fully recognize the challenge that public safety presents to us,” Ettinger said.
Another safety measure involves limiting public access to more campus buildings by requiring a U-Card that students carry to get in.
“It depends on the nature of the building, the use of that building,” Frans said. “We work really hard to balance keeping our buildings open to promote access but also to promote the safest security practices we can have.”
Frans says libraries, museums and common spaces, like Coffman Memorial Union, won’t be affected. Of the 280 buildings on the Twin Cities campus, half are open to the public.
“We do expect for a number of buildings to remain open,” Frans said.
“I think public access is really important in public institutions but I also think the safety of students, faculty and staff should be paramount,” said Rick Hoops, a graduate student.
The University of Minnesota is still ironing out details of which buildings may have limited access to the public. But Frans says it won’t be an all-or-nothing situation, rather, more of a building-by-building approach.
“I occasionally lose my U-Card so that would really screw me over if I needed to get to a class,” said Bryce Riesner, a sophomore.
There’s also a plan to pilot the addition of turnstiles at the entrance of the Pioneer Hall dorm.
“These turnstiles help to increase residence hall security through strict access control,” Frans said.
A person will be stationed there along with additional security cameras.
“I like the idea of staff at the front of dorms,” Hoops said.
“As I hear it now, it just sounds like a stupid decision,” Riesner said. “I don’t really think that’s going to help anything, I think that money could be going anywhere else and be doing a lot more.”
Based on feedback this fall, the University of Minnesota says the turnstile program might be expanded.