Free shovels available to students through liaison program

Every winter, the student and community relations office is inundated with complaints about renters around the University of Minnesota failing to shovel their sidewalks. The UniversityâÄôs student liaison program is trying to change that. Beginning this week, student liaisons are offering free snow shovels to students in the Southeast Como and Marcy Holmes neighborhoods. Student renters can get vouchers from their student liaison, which they can take to OakâÄôs Hardware on Como Avenue and redeem for a free snow shovel. The student liaison program was started in September by Kendre Turonie, coordinator of student and community relations . âÄúOne of the bigger complaints that my office tends to get over wintertime is complaints about people not shoveling their walks in front of their houses,âÄù Turonie said. Turonie said while itâÄôs usually the landlordâÄôs responsibility to shovel their propertyâÄôs sidewalks, they often donâÄôt get to it until a couple days after a storm, when the snow is packed down and harder to remove. If the liaisons notice particular houses that arenâÄôt shoveled, theyâÄôll offer a free shovel to the students that live there. Jasmine Blanks , a liaison in the Southeast Como neighborhood, was able to give a free shovel to a house of students on her block at the end of first semester, before the program officially started. Sophomore David Spencer and his roommates received a snow shovel from Blanks before the start of second semester. Although Spencer has only lived in the Southeast Como neighborhood for one winter, he said for the most part the sidewalks are well maintained. Southeast Como Improvement Association Neighborhood Coordinator James De Sota said shoveling improves when people know their neighbors. âÄúThereâÄôs something about seeing people out shoveling snow that makes you want to do your part,âÄù De Sota said. Blanks said many students donâÄôt know that theyâÄôre entitled to a reimbursement if their landlord is supposed to shovel the sidewalks and the students are the ones actually doing it. âÄúI think that generally most students would want their landlord to do their jobs if thatâÄôs what theyâÄôre supposed to do,âÄù Blanks said. She said some students want to do their part where their landlords may be falling short. Blanks said Southeast Como is trying to work with landlords to let them know that itâÄôs not just a burden to their tenants, but it becomes a burden for the whole community. TuronieâÄôs office purchased the shovels from OakâÄôs Hardware, where students can get a discount off other snow removal products when they pick up a free shovel. Patrick Clough , owner of OakâÄôs Hardware, said if the program is successful, he would be interested in doing it again next year. De Sota said he thinks the program will improve the conditions in the neighborhood, but it will be a slow process and will need to be done every winter.