Students react to on-campus shooting

Some students question the University’s response to the incident.

by Katherine Lymn

Monday nightâÄôs shooting outside Centennial Hall brought strong reaction from University of Minnesota students âÄî surprise at the incidentâÄôs proximity at first and doubts about the UniversityâÄôs response as the shock wore off. While many acknowledge the UniversityâÄôs urban campus environment as a reason for high rates of petty crime, the shooting of a student outside a residence hall hit closer to home. University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner has heard grievances from students and parents about the timeliness of the crime alert, an e-mail sent out 12 hours after the shooting. In response to these complaints, along with âÄúinternal commentsâÄù on the same issue, UMPD and other University officials will soon meet to discuss current alert policy and whether it should be changed, Miner said. Communications junior Ashley Huizenga said while she wasnâÄôt surprised at the robberies âÄî allegedly committed by the same men âÄî the shooting really surprised her. âÄúThey obviously meant to do something, like kill [the victim],âÄù she said. âÄúI thought it was a little weird that they didnâÄôt send it [the alert] out right away,âÄù said first-year Max Helmeke, who was surprised the crime was committed outside a residence hall. Chris OâÄôBrien, a political science sophomore, said this kind of crime is âÄúpar for the courseâÄù on a city campus. âÄúYou canâÄôt hide in your house all day,âÄù he said. Minnesota Student Association President Paul Strain said he has also heard from students who were unsatisfied with the UniversityâÄôs response to the shooting. He also found the response âÄúsomewhat concerning,âÄù he said. While he said he understands sending out a campus-wide e-mail too hastily may cause technical problems, Strain questioned whether the UniversityâÄôs âÄúTXT-UâÄú emergency text message alert system should have been implemented immediately after the incident. Miner said a text message alert was not issued because witnesses of the shooting said the suspects fled east immediately after the incident. The University is careful not to send out TXT-U alerts âÄî which came in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings âÄî except when absolutely necessary in order to maintain the impact of all alerts, Miner said. âÄúWe really want the message to get across,âÄù he said. âÄúNobody ever wants it to get to the point where you get an e-mail that says âÄòPublic Safety AlertâÄô and you just delete it because itâÄôs the third one youâÄôve received that week.âÄù TXT-U alerts are used most frequently for bomb threats and subsequent building evacuations, most recently last school year, Miner said. Some say the alertâÄôs delay avoided alarming the campus without due cause. âÄúIt might have caused a little panic right away,âÄù said recreation resource management senior Mollie Thiet. âÄúI think they had to get things together before they formally told the students,âÄù she said.