Regents to talk campus safety

The regents will also discuss how sexual assault cases are heard.

by Meghan Holden

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents will discuss campus safety, sexual assault policy changes and student recommendations during its final meetings of the year this week.

Regents will review video surveillance, campus design and public accessibility options in an attempt to improve safety on campus at the meetings Thursday and Friday.

The University is currently updating campus buildings that don’t have electronic access control, which allows buildings to be secured instantly from the University’s Public Safety Emergency Communications Center, according to the meetings docket.

The $1.5 million update will be finished by the end of next semester. University Services also recently created three workgroups to analyze how the University can use technology to improve safety on or near campus.

The groups will consider lighting and landscape changes to improve visibility, as well as the possible addition of video surveillance in high-traffic areas on campus, according to the meetings docket.

They will also explore making some University buildings accessible to only the University community and requiring authentication to enter certain facilities.

Security recommendations will be implemented based on priority, feasibility and available resources, University spokesman Matt Hodson said.

The student representatives to the board will also address campus safety in their presentation to the regents.

The Minnesota Student Association, whose representatives will present at the meeting Friday, recently surveyed undergraduate students to examine crime perception after the recent uptick around campus.

Nearly 80 percent of students surveyed said they feel “less safe” or “a lot less safe” on or near campus after recent crime, according to MSA’s report to the board.

Joelle Stangler, MSA’s ranking representative to the board, said she hopes the presentation will further open the discussion between University officials and students.

“This will be a good way to continue the conversations with them,” she said.

Changes to sexual assault cases

The student representatives will advocate Friday for a new panel specially trained to hear sexual assault cases in lieu of the policy changes to be implemented this spring.

The national Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, which affects reporting and policies on sexual violence at universities, will go into effect by March.

Under the current system, the Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity hears sexual assault cases. If an appeal is made, the case goes to the Campus Committee on Student Behavior, which is responsible for enforcing student discipline procedures.

It also hears cases based on scholastic dishonesty, disorderly conduct and hazing. Student representatives say sexual assault cases require special attention.

“It seems kind of counter-intuitive for [the Campus Committee on Student Behavior] to be hearing about scholastic misconduct, then about this,” Stangler said.

The University’s Duluth and Morris campuses have special hearing panels for sexual assault cases.

More items

The board will vote to appoint Dr. Brooks Jackson as the new dean of the University’s Medical School and vice president for health sciences. He will begin work Feb. 17 pending approval.

The Regents will also vote on the lease agreement for the University’s $160 million Ambulatory Care Center project, located at 910 Essex St. SE in Minneapolis.

The center will house new surgery and cancer centers as well as clinics, and it is expected to open in 2016.

At the meetings, the regents will also vote on the University’s plan to join United Properties to own and operate the Days Inn Hotel and parking lot and the Tea House Chinese Restaurant. Both are located on the 2400 block of University Avenue Southeast.

Student representatives will also discuss at the meetings potentially adding gender-neutral housing on the Twin Cities campus, increasing public-private relationships at the University and altering tuition models for professional schools.