Get involved locally

Lack of local student involvement results in unfavorable local policies.

Editorial board

Neighborhoods surrounding the University of Minnesota have a variety of organizations that work to represent the area and its residents. These groups are a great opportunity to voice opinion, but few students get involved with them.

Right now, the Southeast Como Improvement Association is looking for a student representative for its board, with only two current student members. To have an influence on decisions involving areas with high student populations, students must care enough to join these neighborhood groups.

The Student Neighborhood Liaisons of the University also reach out to surrounding communities. This is one way for students to create good relationships with neighborhoods around campus.

Lack of student involvement extends to the political realm as well. The Dinkytown section of Ward 3 in Minneapolis had a pitiful 4 percent turnout in the last City Council election in 2009. Diane Hofstede has been the councilwoman there since 2005, yet almost no students have heard of her. HofstedeâÄôs decisions on the City Council directly affect residents. In attempt to reach out to the community, Hofstede works with the University District Alliance, a group that joins the University and its nearby neighborhoods.

But next to no students participate in the University District Alliance âÄî this has to change. Students should get more involved with decision making in the community and show that we do care about what goes on in our communities. With busy schedules of class and work, it may seem hard to get involved. However, itâÄôs crucial to maintain good relationships between student residents and others in the area, to be involved in decision making and to represent University students.