Serving students with my work

Let me give you just three examples where my work has benefited students.

INOTE: This column originally ran in the November 16th print edition, but was not put online.

In a Nov. 7 editorial, “Whom you should vote for,” the editorial board stated that I have paid “little to nil” attention to students.

The editorial board might disagree with positions I’ve taken, but there is probably no issue that has absorbed more of my attention than the relation of the University and its students to the city and the neighborhoods surrounding the University.

Let me give you just three specific examples where I believe my work on the Minneapolis City Council for Ward 2 has directly benefited students.

Ceremonies memorializing the tragic deaths of three students in an off-campus fire two years ago brought students and their Southeast Como neighbors more closely together than any time I’ve seen them, at an awful cost.

But out of that tragedy, with my passionate support, the city initiated a safety sweep of inspections of the off-campus housing in neighborhoods surrounding the University that disclosed literally thousands of code violations, many of which placed student-tenants at risk, and improved the housing stock for all residents of the neighborhoods.

A couple of years ago, sorority students living in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, along with some of the permanent residents of the neighborhood, at a Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association meeting raised with me the question of safety and pedestrian-level lighting around the University.

Working together with the greeks, the neighborhood association, the Southeast Como Improvement Association, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the University, the Minnesota Student Association and supportive landlords, we succeeded in getting pedestrian lighting that will light up the dark canyon of 15th Avenue before the year is out, making that well-used pedestrian and bike route safer for all who use it.

Because of the difficulty students have sometimes had in voting in past elections, in the past year, at my urging, the city elections department worked with the University and added a new precinct and voting location at Coffman Union.

Although only a handful of students used this new polling place in the primary election, when few students were on campus, we maintained it for the general election.

There was a much better turnout in the general election which, by the way, not unexpectedly produced about a hundred more votes on campus for the Green Party candidate whom you endorsed than the DFLer I supported.

The Daily also ran a piece by our elections director on the requirements for student registration that I asked you to run, so altogether students probably had a real role in the outcome.

Cam Gordon will pay attention to students.

Cara Letofsky would have as well.

So have I.

Now that the elections are over, I hope we can work together for the common good.

Paul Zerby is a Minneapolis City Council member for the 2nd Ward. Please send comments to [email protected]