September far from routine for University

Tricia Michel

University Counseling and Consulting Services held an informative meeting Monday for Territorial Hall residents in response to last week’s abduction and assault outside the residence hall.

Officials from University Police, Counseling and Consulting Services, and Housing and Residential Life spoke to a small group of students about preventive actions they could take to improve campus safety.

The incident is one of several that made September far from routine for University students and administrators.

There were Gophers football stadium discussions following a proposed $35 million alumnus donation. University police ticketed dozens of students for jaywalking on Washington Avenue. A house fire killed three University students. Another fire was lit in Territorial Hall, and a Campus Connector bus collided with a vehicle on the University’s transitway.

“Fires and abductions are things that unfortunately happen. They are just risks of society,” said first-year student Chris Hanson, who said he feels safe on campus despite the month’s events.

Other students have been more concerned with safety near the superblock since last week’s abduction.

First-year student Meredith Benson lives in Frontier Hall. She said she never used to worry about walking anywhere alone, but because of the abduction, she said, she is always on the lookout.

“I don’t blame police or anything, but it’s ridiculous that they’re giving out jaywalking tickets when they should be out doing other things,” Benson said.

Assistant Vice President for Public Safety Greg Hestness said the public safety department is doing what it can to ensure campus safety. The department recently added three new police officers to assist with crime patrol and will increase campus security with added alarm systems, cameras and better card-access monitoring.

Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Laurie Scheich said it is unusual for the University to experience so many events in such a short time.

She said the University will take all necessary precautions to prevent similar events by reviewing University property listings, assessing the transitway and educating students on residential safety.

Sophomore Maria Volpe said recent events have raised awareness issues. Volpe said that after the house fire she realized her bedroom did not have a fire alarm, and she has become more conscious of code blue emergency systems because of the abduction.

University counseling services have helped students cope with recent events through increased group counseling, education programs and grief counseling.

Glenn Hirsch, assistant director of Counseling and Consulting Services, said University counselors are trying to normalize grief experiences so students feel comfortable talking to counselors.

He said many students are taking advantage of the services and many dormitories and campus groups are inviting counselors to speak to students.