Recognize U neighborhood group

The current neighborhood associations leave an unrepresented hole surrounding the U.

It’s been clear in recent years that the current neighborhood associations do not represent, or faithfully consider, student concerns. Whether it be by mischaracterizing the over-occupancy issues or harassing students who have the nerve to park cars in front of where they live, neighborhood associations, as they currently are, give little weight to student concerns. For these reasons, we wish success for the University District Improvement Association, but it has a long way to go.

The association is in the beginning formation stages. It has yet to adopt bylaws and has no office. To become an official neighborhood association, it must be recognized by the Minneapolis City Council. Only with recognition can it receive Neighborhood Revitalization Program funds, begin hiring a staff and rent office space.

As it stands, if the current neighborhood associations are laid out on a map, there is a hole surrounding the University not represented by a neighborhood association. The University District Improvement Association aims to represent this area and the areas heavily occupied by students bordering it.

Unfortunately, the association will face stiff opposition from current neighborhood associations also fighting for neighborhood funds. The existing neighborhood associations have an interest in including the students because of their special income levels and numbers, which help get larger slices of the revitalization pie. As it stands, students help get more funds for neighborhood associations, but largely do not receive the benefits. For instance, homeowners in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood can apply for resident improvement loans, but those are not available to fraternities, sororities or people living in apartments.

Historically, it has been easier for students to move than fight entrenched neighborhood associations. This has led to students shuffling back and forth between neighborhoods, only to discover similar problems in their new areas. Forming the infrastructure of this group has been the first step. The Minneapolis City Council must recognize the group when it petitions for recognition. For too long, students have been cheated out of representation and funding. Hopefully, the University District Improvement Association can develop and prosper, and students will finally get their say.