In February, some buildings will up security

The University is testing a U Card access program on the West Bank.

Computer science freshman Austin Anderson swipes his U Card to get to his dorm in Territorial Hall on Tuesday morning.

Image by Patricia Grover

Computer science freshman Austin Anderson swipes his U Card to get to his dorm in Territorial Hall on Tuesday morning.

by Nicholas Studenski

The University of Minnesota will be closing some of its doors in response to violent crime on and near campus.

Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock released details of the University’s pilot program to control building access Tuesday at the University’s Coffee and Doughnuts with the Cops event. Some of the goals of the program, she said, are to better understand who’s using University buildings and how and when they’re being used.

Wheelock said the University is going to start the pilot program sometime in February, requiring U Cards to access some buildings — mainly on West Bank, because of its closer proximity to downtown. This would allow the University to track who is using the buildings and when they come in and out.

“Right now, we unlock these doors, and we don’t keep track of who’s coming or going,” Wheelock said.

Minnesota Student Association President Mike Schmit said he’s excited about the pilot program.

Since the University hasn’t tried it before, Schmit said he isn’t sure what effects the program will have, but he’s glad the University is doing a trial run.

“Trying new things like this is a good idea,” he said.

Schmit said keeping the public University’s campus open is a potential issue with the program.

“The intent of being a land grant University is to educate the masses,” he said. “The University is a resource to the state and to the public.”

Wheelock said the University is working to balance student safety with open building access but said some buildings don’t need to be public.

“The fact of the matter is many of our buildings are really for University use and not appropriate for the general public to be expecting access to,” she said.

Wheelock said she’s heard positive feedback about the program from University faculty and staff.

Genetics and cell biology sophomore Vaibhav Murthy said requiring U Cards for access to some University buildings will help to keep campus safe.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said.

But reducing building hours might make it more difficult for students to use the tunnel system, Murthy said.

“Some of the tunnels already close at like 5 o’clock,” he said. “I think that’s really silly.”

First-year veterinary student Cassy Griebel shared concerns about shorter building hours because she often studies in University buildings late.

But as long as buildings like libraries and Coffman Union stay open, Griebel said, requiring U Card access is a good way to keep campus safe.

Overall, Griebel said she thinks the University has the situation under control.

“I think they’re doing a good job keeping students up to date on what’s happening, where crime is happening and what they plan to do to stop more crime,” she said.


Kia Farhang contributed to this report.