Updates on the Student Co-op property

Some students and parents remain concerned about crime on the 1700 block of University Avenue despite renewed efforts toward safety.

The+City+of+Minneapolis+will+not+renew+the+Student+Co-op+boards+lodging+license+until+existing+safety+violations+are+cleared.

Dean Tan

The City of Minneapolis will not renew the Student Co-op board’s lodging license until existing safety violations are cleared.

by Madison Roth

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect specific code violations at the Co-op’s property.

As the 2022-23 year begins at the University of Minnesota and students flood back to campus, some students and parents voiced their concerns of crime returning to the area surrounding the Students’ Cooperative building on the 1700 block of University Avenue.

In late May and early June, the Student Co-op was the site of shootings and other disturbances. The University worked toward securing the block in June, and to try to prevent future crime, the president and vice president of the Student Co-op started restoring the building this summer to create a safe place to live for the future.

“We’re on our way to getting people back into the building,” President of the Student Co-op board Ellery Wealot said. “There’s still a lot of work left with that, but we’re making major progress.”

Wealot said the “optimistic goal” is to have people move back in by next fall, continuing with their mission to provide low-income housing for University students and recent graduates.

During the September Board of Regents meeting, University Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Myron Frans said the City of Minneapolis will not renew the Student Co-op’s lodging license until the safety violations such as repairing doors, windows and fire alarm panels are cleared.

“We will continue to work with the co-op and their attempts to reopen to make sure that the community and the University’s safety concerns are addressed so that that business decision is made in the broadest possible sense regarding the people who live in that area and the University as a neighbor,” Frans said.

Morgan McElroy, a 2021 University graduate who lived one house down from the Student Co-op for four years, said he feels the University has ignored the safety of their students in recent years by failing to take action against the Student Co-op after incidents he said occurred between 2019 and 2021.

“The situation we find ourselves in today could have been largely preventable if the University prioritized the needs of the students and other stakeholders,” McElroy said.

McElroy said as a student, he repeatedly heard slurs and other derogatory comments shouted at him from members of the Student Co-op, saw “illicit substances” on the Co-op patio and witnessed members enter his fraternity’s property with weapons.

As a member of the University’s student government, McElroy worked to improve campus safety as an undergraduate, raising awareness of crime around campus and the community. Since graduation, McElroy has continued to advocate for increased safety measures by collaborating with parents of University students such as Beth Ambaruch to pressure the University and the City of Minneapolis to invest in more public safety measures near and on campus.

Ambaruch, head of the “U of MN parents – campus safety and call to action topics” group on Facebook and the mother of a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity near the Student Co-op, also expressed concern over crime returning to the 1700 block of University Avenue this fall despite the University’s and the Student Co-op board’s efforts to secure the area.

“I don’t think they’re going to be able to fix it,” Ambaruch said. “I don’t think they’re going to be able to make it safe.”

In a poll taken on the parent Facebook page, out of 819 votes, 29% of the members agreed they “have major concerns about the crime and lack of safety that has occurred at the 1721 co-op house over the past year,” according to Ambaruch.

Wealot said he understands parents’ concerns since their kids have been put in “dangerous situations” but wants people to understand the co-op board members are not the people who were responsible for the crimes at 1721 University.

“[The board] is the one who stepped in to fix the situation,” Wealot said. “We have some of the same goals as the parent group has; we want the co-op to be safe.”