University group wants neighborhood approval

Kia Farhang

The University of Minnesota District Alliance heard a proposal Wednesday from the Board of Community Engagement to become the official liaison between student groups and neighborhood organizations.

Recent graduate Chet Bodin founded the board last year as a member of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly. He said he wanted to stop relationships from deteriorating between student groups and neighborhood organizations after students graduate.

“It’ll give a continuity to the relationship,” he said.

If the UDA formally adopts Bodin’s proposal, the board will have more resources and connections when it starts operating again in the fall.

At least two departments at the University already exist to strengthen school ties with the surrounding neighborhoods — the office of Student Community Relations and the office of Community Relations.

Bodin said he wants to see more of that kind of collaboration. Students benefit from real-world skills they learn working on projects, while neighborhoods get access to energy and manpower, he said.

But Bodin’s proposal received a lukewarm reception at the UDA meeting on Wednesday.

“I’m trying to figure out if there are any toes that we might step on,” said Minneapolis Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon, referring to the other University offices already handling community relations.

But Jan Morlock, the University’s director of community relations, said it wouldn’t be a problem. SCR employees plan to advise the BCE as it moves forward, she said.

“This doesn’t sidestep anything else going on with students,” she said.

For more on University and community relations group overlaps, pick up Wednesday’s Minnesota Daily.