Riot damage to U property estimated at $39,000

DBy Nathan Halverson and Kari Petrie

Damage to University property caused by last weekend’s riot is estimated at $39,000, University officials said Wednesday.

The total does not include the $50,000 to $200,000 of fire damage to the Civil Engineering Building and a nearby crane. It also does not include overtime pay for University police or maintenance employees working to repair damages.

University Services Vice President Kathleen O’Brien wrote in an e-mail that a structural assessment of the engineering building’s loading dock and a decision to repair or replace the crane will be made by next week.

She wrote that the $39,000 in damage primarily occurred to parking facilities equipment, including broken glass panels and damaged emergency phones, signs and attendants’ booths.

Anthony Kuczek, a Minneapolis Fire Department captain, said the engineering building fire could have had more serious consequences.

“There were actually students in there at that time,” he said.

The fire was started in a cargo bay behind the building, which contained heavily combustible material and pallets, he said.

There was a propane tank in the cargo bay adjacent to the fire and a natural gas line located near the blazing roof, he said.

A Facilities Management employee said rioters could have accessed the cargo bay because the metal gate that closes the cargo areas is rarely closed. He said he did not think it was closed that night.

Three students have been charged in connection with the riot. The University is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to arrests on arson charges. The money comes from the Minnesota Arson Reward Project.

Student Judicial Affairs director Betty Hackett said the group investigates allegations of student conduct code violations. She said the group will do follow-up interviews with suspects only if police reports are unclear.

She said anyone can file a complaint of misconduct and that her office will promptly resolve it.

“The preparing of the allegation usually occurs away from our office,” Hackett said.

The organization is responsible for advising and disciplining conduct code violators. The director meets informally with the student to discuss the allegation and find a solution while remaining mindful of students’ educational development.

University Provost Christine Maziar said administrators are looking at changing the student conduct code to include the type of riotous behavior and vandalism that took place in Dinkytown on Saturday.

Officials are also discussing a policy change that would be separate from the student conduct code and are talking to other universities with these types of policies, she said.

“We’re doing our homework right now,” she said.

Tyler Parsons, a College of Liberal Arts junior, was found guilty of disorderly conduct in the April 2002 riot that occurred after Minnesota’s men’s hockey team’s NCAA championship win.

Parsons said the University should not expand the student conduct code to include students’ off-campus activities.

“I don’t think being convicted of a crime should put you in bad standing with the University,” Parsons said.

– Paul Sand contributed to this report.

Nathan Halverson covers business affairs. He welcomes comments at [email protected]

Kari Petrie covers Board of Regents and administration. She welcomes comments at [email protected]