MSA institutes new safety committee on campus

According to MSA’s November 2020 student survey, after only 18.81% of students said they felt safe at night on campus, MSA decided to form a new proactive committee.

by Madison Roth

In early November, the Minnesota Student Association (MSA) informed student representatives that a new Campus Safety Committee was created.

A written statement prepared by Nicholas Wallenhorst, a third-year student and co-chair of the MSA Campus Safety Committee, read “the purpose of this committee is to work with administration and external agencies to propose campus safety solutions and pressure the university to adopt these initiatives.”

Some of these initiatives include adding more lighting around campus, specifically Dinkytown, and adding more Blue Light emergency call boxes. In addition, other initiatives will promote the Rave Guardian app and define the jurisdictions of the University of Minnesota Police Department and the Minneapolis Police Department.

The current priority initiative is to get SAFE-U alerts released quicker.

“If MPD and UMPD don’t have a fast line of communication, then MPD deals with these situations, and that’s why we’re seeing these delays when it comes to getting these SAFE-U [alerts] out,” Wallenhorst said. “We want to fasttrack this as well.”

In past years, many different University groups have worked toward changes to improve campus safety. To work together and tackle similar issues around campus safety, MSA created the Campus Safety Committee.

“It was difficult to understand who’s doing what and where, so this committee allows everybody who’s involved in campus safety or who wants to be involved in campus safety, to come together and share information and work on all of the similar projects that we have in mind,” said second-year student Shashank Murali, another co-chair of the MSA Campus Safety Committee.

According to Wallenhorst, the MSA Campus Safety Committee includes members of the University’s M Safe initiative, UMPD, MPD, local businesses, University’s Off-Campus Living, city council members and student groups with additional consideration of marginalized groups.

“Let’s figure it out as a team, and let’s join in together and really push it forward. We’re hoping by bringing everyone together that we can bring some more concrete solutions,” Wallenhorst said.

According to the written statement by Wallenhorst, the committee focuses their goals based on the opinions and perspectives of current students at the University. The three members of the committee are at-large voting members of MSA’s forum body and elected by the forum body. Two members are student cultural group representatives.

Murali said that having different perspectives from students is important because every student has a unique experience with campus safety. He added that this approach helps the committee in decision-making because campus safety affects thousands of students.

First-year student Niko Vasilopoulos, one of the at-large representatives of the Campus Safety Committee, said in an email interview with the Minnesota Daily that the overall goal of the MSA Campus Safety Committee is to see progress in the initiatives previously stated.

“It is important to be realistic in understanding that we will not be able to quickly change everything, but I am optimistic about our ability to take positive steps in the right direction,” Vasilopoulos said.