Students get a voice in St. Paul

The St. Anthony Park Community Council created two student spots.

by Kaitlyn Walek

A neighborhood bordering the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus is adding student voices to its community council.

The St. Anthony Park Community Council voted Thursday to add two student positions to its board, a move that has some University leaders praising the organization for involving students. 

Once chosen, the students will serve one-year terms. Applicants must be at least 16 years old and live or attend school in St. Anthony Park. Amy Sparks, the council’s executive director, said the positions will be promoted mainly through social media.

Though the University’s St. Paul campus isn’t technically in St. Anthony Park, Sparks said, students are still likely qualified to join the board if they attend classes there.

Jerod Greenisen, Minnesota Student Association representative to the University District Alliance, said it’s important the neighborhood is giving students a chance to get involved with civic life.

“Opportunities through neighborhood boards provide people with nonprofit management skills. They also force you to become a much better communicator,” he said.

Greenisen said he’s happy St. Anthony Park recognized the work students have done in the area and the potential for their contributions to continue.

Though the neighborhood board doesn’t know of any University students who may be interested in taking the new position, Sparks said, the board hopes to get more renters represented.

She said St. Anthony Park has an equal number of renters and homeowners, but the neighborhood council currently consists mostly of homeowners. Adding student renters to the board would help even out representation.

“We’re just excited about having some fresh energy and different perspectives on the board,” Sparks said.

Jan Morlock, the University’s community relations director, said that when members of a diverse board find common ground, they can make decisions that benefit the entire community.

She cited the University District Alliance’s board as an example. The board has a mix of students and traditional residents.

“The diversity of the people we have on the board really helps for [the] picture,” Morlock said.

Sparks said the council aims to appoint one high school student and one college student to the board. To apply, students must prove that they live or attend school in St. Anthony Park.

The board will likely end up filling the student positions on a first-come, first-serve basis, she said.

St. Anthony Park isn’t the first neighborhood to include students on its board. Organizations like the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association and the Southeast Como Improvement Association currently have University student representatives through student government groups.