Roundtable talk covers safety, housing

Thursday's event was the first in a series of roundtable discussions MSA plans.

Beth Hornby

Students raised campus safety and housing concerns with police, violence counselors and student government leaders at a roundtable discussion Thursday night.

The sparsely attended meeting was the first in a series of roundtables the Minnesota Student Association plans.

“I got a lot of useful information on housing violation accountability,” said sophomore Kyle Potter, a member of the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, which hopes to collaborate with MSA on student-housing initiatives.

MSA Vice President Jeff Nath said students need to be proactive to make drastic changes. He said MSA is planning an effort with other student groups to encourage students to report code violations and over-occupancy.

“Students are not without blame, because we are the ones who’ve accepted the mediocrity in student housing until now,” Nath said.

MSA invited University police officer Matt Quast to answer campus safety questions. Quast, who has served on the department’s investigations unit for seven years, said theft is a big problem.

“The most important thing is to report suspicious actions because we need to know right as it happens,” Quast said. “Students need to participate more in the operation.”

Quast said University police often collaborate with the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, which works on campus domestic violence issues. Aurora representatives at the meeting said they hope to raise awareness of domestic violence and inform students on how to report it.

Sean McNee, communications director for the University’s Council of Graduate Students, said he is excited about future roundtable meetings because they will allow students and student groups to voice their opinions.

McNee took the meeting as a chance to compliment MSA’s late-night bus program – which began running Thursday – as a step in the right direction for making campus travel safer.

“Grad students work all hours of the night, and I know that a lot of us are enthusiastic about the night bus service,” McNee said.