MSA takes on recent robberies

In response to student concerns, MSA is upping its prevention efforts.

Kyle Stowe

A recent uptick in robberies and assaults on or near the University of Minnesota campus is concerning students, and some organizations are taking note.

In response to student concerns, the Minnesota Student Association is working with other groups on further crime prevention efforts, which could include safety education and the installation of more lights on campus.

University police have sent out crime alerts for eight robberies and assaults this semester, an increase from the same period of time last fall.

Freshman Laurel Kabat said she’d like to see improvements in lighting and additional patrols to help her feel safer around campus.

“All the crime lately has made me feel a little nervous, especially at night,” she said. “I hope we can find ways to keep them from happening again.”

MSA President Mike Schmit said crime is an increasingly important issue for student government.

“We need to find out why people are being robbed at gunpoint recently and why people are being mugged at 3 p.m.,” he said. “We need to know why this is happening.”

MSA will work with the University District Alliance and the Office of Student and Community Relations to boost resources for students, Schmit said. The group also hopes to discuss modifying University police patrols and adding more officers.

After a string of four robberies hit University neighborhoods over the weekend of Oct. 11, University police added more officers with the help of Metro Transit and Minneapolis police.

Before starting at the University, psychology freshman Emily Jaeger said she didn’t consider she could be robbed. But now, she said the crime alerts have made her more aware.

“I don’t know what I would do if I were robbed,” she said. “It’s really in the back of my mind right now.”

University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said the weather could be to blame for recent crimes.

“When you and I tend to spend more time outdoors, so do the bad guys,” he said.

Miner said the number of robberies on campus has dropped dramatically in the last decade.

Still, he said it’s important for students to use resources like the security monitor escort service if they ever feel unsafe on campus.

While University police are always working to make campus safer, Miner said, they aren’t always able to see concerns from a student’s perspective.

“If students ever notice anything that they feel we can improve, we’re always open to feedback,” he said.

Management information systems sophomore Gabe Kahn said he expects some crime in the University’s urban setting, but he added that this fall seems unusual.

“[The crimes] seemed to happen where you wouldn’t expect them,” he said.

Schmit said MSA hopes to work with landlords in campus neighborhoods to install motion-activated lighting on buildings and try a door-knocking campaign to increase awareness of crime around the University.

“There is urgency to develop new solutions,” he said. “We can’t have students walking around scared on campus.”