Students call for increased Coffman security

Security guards are not assigned to patrol Coffman Union.

Since February, University of Minnesota police have filed reports for trespassing, theft, burglary, public intoxication and assault in Coffman Union. Few of the crimes were caught during the act because no security guards are assigned to patrol Coffman. A number of student groups that have their offices on CoffmanâÄôs second floor are calling for extra security. Since the beginning of the academic year, 10 of 14 student groups informally surveyed by the Daily that have offices on the second floor of Coffman have been victims of theft or burglary. University police have reported three cases of theft and one burglary in the past 17 days. Bharat Student Group , who shares an office with three other groups, has been battling problems caused by the theft of a group checkbook from an office desk in November that incurred more than $2,000 in costs. The group discovered the checkbook had been stolen last week. Officers of the Middle Eastern Student Association were victims of theft Saturday Feb. 14, when a person climbed over dividing walls on the second floor of Coffman into their offices, association Secretary Murid Amini said. The thief made off with a laptop computer and two iPods, according to the police report. Kaitlin Johnson, a staff member for the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly , said she has never seen security on patrol on the second floor. Johnson feels that increased security oversight is necessary to monitor some activity that happens in the hallways. âÄúI think that a more visual presence could make it a little more pleasant around here,âÄù Johnson said. âÄúThe only people that have poked their heads around here that IâÄôve noticed are people taking a head count once in a while to see how the office space is being used.âÄù Lauren Hayden, Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists co-chair , also said she thinks Coffman should have security patrolling around the student group offices. âÄúIf [security] made rounds through the offices more frequently, I think people would learn to expect them,âÄù Hayden said. The University does not feel that a security patrol is needed in Coffman because there are large numbers of University departments and facilities staff in and around the building, and they are encouraged to call and report crime, Security Monitor Program Manager Ben Schnabel said. Unarmed student security guards are on campus patrol every night, but Coffman isnâÄôt a mandatory patrol route, Schnabel said. âÄúWe have between probably seven and fifteen people that are dedicated to general campus patrols,âÄù Schnabel said. âÄúThose people may patrol through Coffman at night, and they may not.âÄù Police officers are contracted to oversee large events, such as events in the Great Hall or concerts in the Whole Music Club , located in the Coffman basement, Schnabel said. He emphasized that student organizations must take responsibility for locking their offices, because nobody checks for them. Student groups that are located in common office areas have to share a security access code with other groups, which make several organization leaders uneasy. Bharat Student Group President Vidhya Venugopal said that theft problems have forced the code to be changed numerous times. âÄúYou always need a door code to get in [to the common area], but I think itâÄôs pretty widely circulated,âÄù Hayden said. Schnabel said that the security monitor program would be willing to consider having assigned patrols on the second floor.