Improving housing and safety

MSA’s Facilities, Housing and Transit Committee address housing and safety issues.

The start of the school year is usually a difficult time. Students must again start the drudgery of classes after a four-month break. This year, the first few weeks of school were even more difficult with an extreme influx of violent crime and muggings on the University campus and adjacent neighborhoods. The Minnesota Student Association’s Facilities, Housing and Transit Committee members ensure that the issue of safety is being addressed.

The committee’s first step was to build a relationship with neighborhood boards. Although most have seats specifically for students, many of these positions have been vacant the last few years. The committee made an effort to find students to hold these positions and can successfully say that we have a representative for the Southeast Como Neighborhood, the area most impacted with crime. By having a representative attend these meetings and hold other meetings with various political, safety and neighborhood officials, we are creating the necessary bonds in the community and stressing the fact that crime is a vital issue.

With the support of the adjacent neighborhoods and other leaders, we can address the issue collectively, since the crime is not solely on campus. The committee also sponsored a safety walk in November where students, University Police, Minneapolis Police, Marcy Holmes Safety Group and Housing and Residential Life representatives walked the University campus and some adjacent neighborhoods to locate areas that were potentially unsafe or precarious. The committee plans to have another walk in the spring. We will co-sponsor the event with the greek community and possibly a few other student organizations.

The Facilities, Housing and Transit Committee continues to work toward enhancing housing with our Renters’ Survey where students can assess the merit of their housing. The survey can be accessed from the MSA Web site, www.msa.umn.edu. Assessments from the survey can then be passed on to other students in the Renters’ Guide, which is set to be published in the coming weeks.

The better the housing in the community, the more stable our neighborhoods, and the less likely we’ll have people moving in who have malicious intentions. The committee is co-sponsoring renter forums at residential halls, Coffman and the St. Paul Student Center to educate students about the legality of renting.

Today’s MSA forum will vote on a resolution proposed by the Facilities, Housing and Transit Committee in which we voice our support for the Minneapolis Department of Regulatory Services housing inspections. Housing inspections aim to improve the neighborhoods in which so many of our students reside. If people are required to move out of their housing due to poor conditions, proper safeguards are in place. Student Legal Service can fight to make certain that the landlord pays for alternative housing and Housing and Residential Life can provide housing to students who need to be relocated. These inspections are sending a message to landlords: Students will not tolerate and live in poor and invidious conditions. Students also reserve the right to deny entrance to inspectors if they choose.

The Facilities, Housing and Transit Committee will continue to work ardently to address housing and safety issues, but there is still much work to be done. If you are interested in attending a Facilities, Housing and Transit Committee meeting or expressing your opinions, feel free to e-mail [email protected] or stop by the MSA Office, Rm. 235 in Coffman Union.

Adam Engelman is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]